I’ve been so lucky to have been travelling a lot more the past year and one thing wandering around a lot shows you is how little you need to live and be contented. I believe a simple life is a freer one. One where material possessions don’t tie us down into working just to have something new. One where we can be more present in our decisions and in our focus.
Being able to carry everything you need for weeks in one bag on your back certainly humbles you into realising most of the extras we surround ourselves with are not essential to our living a good life.
Growing up, I was as materialistic as you could imagine. Constantly asking my Mum for something else. Always wanting to spend Saturdays shopping. I don’t regret this as it’s shown me how futile the pursuit of “stuff” is because I was only happy until the newness had worn off, then I was in desperate search for the next thing. I was lucky my parents did also encourage me to read a lot, and supported my singing and other creative pastimes which at least helped to balance out the consuming monster that lurked within my teenage self so I look back with no self-reproach and see that these experiences helped me understand the money orientated society we reside in today.
The last few years though I’ve found myself needing less and less to be happy. This has been both through choice and also necessity as I’ve chosen to work less to free up my time to travel but obviously this means less money to spend on disposable entertainment items that we’re all encouraged to buy. I find much more fun in the beauty of life and in connecting with other people than I ever did in new clothes and shoes.
I’m certainly not at the end of this journey. I don’t currently live completely waste free, though that’s definitely my aim. I still find myself coveting certain things and have to keep reminding myself to ask whether I really need it or just desire it for some unknown reason. I’ll get there though, I know it and feel happier and more peaceful each day! Being self-aware and observing your actions as you go through them will help to make sure you are living consciously and not being swayed by advertising or your peers.
Here’s how I’m breaking free of the consuming cycle and living on my terms…
- Firstly have a clear out. Try and find homes for unwanted items that no longer serve you. They may stop someone else from buying new if they can repair your broken laptop or have been looking for a table you’re wanting rid of. Charity shops always want clothes and overseas refugee programmes also need bedding and such items. This has the added bonus of clearing your mind at the same time so in turn you feel lighter in yourself as well as your home.
- Find inspiration from others who are living with less. Take tips from others who’ve tried things already and found great ways to help you too.
- Go back to basics with food. When I became vegan, a lot of things clicked into place for me. I realised how much food production is harming our planet and this coupled with waste made me want to live more simply. Eating home made food is more kind to our bodies as well as the environment.
- Find free things to do! A lot of our money goes on keeping ourselves entertained. But this doesn’t have to be a complicated process either. Time in nature walking, swimming, meeting with friends for a chat, all simple ways to enjoy our free time but without the burden of a new games console!
- To be self-aware, start by trying to be a conscious observer of your actions. Don’t judge, just watch. So for example if you find yourself wandering into a shop and about to buy something “for fun” don’t feel bad for it, but do be active in the moment of buying it. You may decide you don’t truly want it after all, as so many of our purchases are quick and made under distraction.
I learnt a lot of these things whilst travelling, but they are all something we can practise whilst going about our lives, whatever we do!
You can’t buy your way to freedom, but maybe you can give things away to attain it. Living more simply will leave you feeling free and able to concentrate on the true things that matter in your life.