Every time we buy something, we tell ourselves a story.
Sometimes that story is, “Last week my boots broke and they can’t be fixed. I need boots because winter is coming and without them, my feel will be cold.”
Pretty straightforward (with a small Game of Thrones reference thrown in for my own entertainment.)
But other times we tell ourselves more intricate stories about the stuff we want to buy. Often these stories are created by advertisers, marketers, magazines, social media and celebrities. And many of them aren’t so much stories as lies we tell ourselves when buying stuff we simply want.
These all condense down to one underpinning story-lie:
If I buy this thing it will make me better.
That might mean it will make you funnier, or sexier, or happier. It might mean you become more interesting, more hip or more respected. It might make you a better mother, friend or husband. It might make you run faster or train harder or look cuter at the gym.
Whatever your rationale, you are trying to convince yourself that this thing – these jeans, that throw rug, those trainers – will make you a better person in some way.
But honestly? It won’t.
A thing can’t make you a better person.
Providing your basic needs of food, water, shelter and clothing are met, this thing will – at best – make you more comfortable, more fashionable or more confident. But you aren’t a kinder, happier, more compassionate person because you bought a throw rug, or trainers, or jeans.
(Please know that I am as guilty of this lie as the next person, so I don’t say any of this in judgement.)
But a life of intentional simplicity is teaching me to recognise this lie, and ignore its needling little voice.
And if I can do that, if I can ignore the little voice telling me I’ll be better if I just buy the thing, then that thing – the jeans, the rug, the trainers – are relegated to their rightfully unimportant place. It’s just stuff. That’s it. Nothing more. And it’s much easier to not want things when you understand how unimportant they are.
When the time comes where you do need to buy a new pair of jeans, or trainers, or a throw rug (if one ever needs a throw rug), it doesn’t become an exercise in personal identity. The stuff remains relegated to its rightful place – it’s just stuff.
Stuff is OK. And it’s OK to want things. It’s OK to buy things.
But stuff is not important. So don’t take your value from it. Don’t measure yourself by it.
You are important. Your friends are important. Your children, your partner, your family – they are important.
Your words, your deeds, your worldview – these are important.
Your jeans? Your trainers? Your throw rug? No.