I watched the brilliant Minimalism documentary the other day. It really struck a chord with me. It made me realise something that had been bothering me for years but I couldn't quite put my finger on. I, like many of my family and friends, have been sold a neoliberal dream that owning more stuff makes us happy. A bigger house, a faster car, fashionable clothes, electronic gadgets, stuff, stuff and more bloody stuff. And here's the rub; none of this actually makes us happier. Well, not really. Momentarily maybe but not real lasting and meaningful happiness. You get that from lived experience and relationships and not digits in the bank and the stuff on your shelves. Unless they're books, of course. Yeah, sure, we all need security but how have we been hoodwinked into this consumerist self-defeating cycle? I blame Thatcher but then again I blame her for most of society's ills.
I worry about the message this consumerism conveys to my two children. I absolutely love them beyond any words can suggest but what does it say if they see me as an economic citizen just toiling away to own more stuff? And it filters down so that they begin to believe that stuff = happiness. And yet it’s not the owning of things that makes children happy, to be honest I don’t think they could care less. Have you ever seen the joy on a young child's face as they jump up and down in a muddy puddle or listen to a story? And not even from a book. The ones that are made up on the spot….that’s real happiness right there. It's not the faux consumerist bullshit children are subjected to Every Single Day in the mass media. Anyhow, time to climb down off this pedestal…..
This year I've decided to declutter my life. I'm going to sell/ donate most of what I own including my car, electronic gadgets (FitBit, iPad et al.), clothes (not all of them) and anything else I think just gets in the way of living a more fulfilled life. I believe that decluttering can give you a renewed sense of purpose and focus. My commitment is to only purchase things that bring real value to my family's lives. Don't worry, my boys won't want for anything but I want them to grow up with a real sense of appreciation for monetary value.
I'm not into telling people what to think or do. But I am interested in making the world a better place. And if that makes me a soft lefty liberal snowflake then so be it. I've been called worse. I wasn't born to own stuff. Christ, I grew up with very little but, you know what, I was happy with my lot. I'm not big on New Year's resolutions as they inevitably get broken but, you know what, 2017 is really the year when I say 'fuck stuff' once and for all......