What is your purpose for living every day? Take a step back, take a deep breath, and think about your passions, hobbies, habits, weaknesses, and experiences. So many of us are bombarded with constant notifications and email alerts the second we wake up. I am guilty for checking my email before drinking my first glass of water in the morning. Take a step back and try to find yourself again.
When I first arrived in Canada, people warned me it would differ from my hometown in Taiwan. In class, we compared collectivist societies such as Japan, and individualistic societies such as North America. Why is North American society infamous for being consumerist? Is it always better to have more, and more, and even more?
When your six-month-old iPhone works flawlessly, do you need to purchase a newer version? Probably not, yet so many of us are guilty of committing this act. As a student who is conscious of her spending habits, I live a simple life, partly because I cannot afford a luxurious one, but mainly because it is in my nature.
I buy what I need, share gifts and food, and contribute to community projects. My parents always told me that life is short, and money is not everything. You can always make more money, but don’t waste your time and life. Those words stick with me today, even though they are thousands of miles away. Everyone is born with a life, but if you want to achieve greater satisfaction, you need to have an effective approach to life.
Anyone is capable of living with minimal resources. In reality, we do not always get the full pie, we get pieces of it, crumbs even, and it is our challenge to work with the information, insights, and environment we are surrounded by. If I received a bonus today, or won the lottery, the first thing that comes to my mind is not a new car, Hunter boots, or a larger apartment. I think about adding to my savings, helping a friend with her startup, or buying food and clothes for people in need. Too many individuals forget how little humans really need to live a fulfilled life.
I purchased one item on Boxing Day: laundry detergent, because I used up my last drop the day before. Just because I don’t own property or have many possessions does not mean I don’t find joy in life. My favourite social activity is watching a movie with friends and cooking a light meal. This is quality time for me. We share the cooking and cleanup in the kitchen, and look forward to the conversations after the movie. This is my ideal and favourite way to spend an evening. Home in Taiwan, I valued time spent with my family. What living intentionally means to me is getting the most enjoyment and rewards with as minimal resources as possible.
Many people are lost in our fast-paced, frenzied, distracted, and confusing world. Our culture encourages over-consumption and excess waste, beguiling us that more goods will make us happier, but reality shows it drowns us into the same vicious cycle.
When you walk into an aisle and you are offered to choose from 20 different types of peanut butter, where do you even begin? Do you stick to the same brand? Organic, or whatever is cheapest, or on sale? With or without sugar and salt? Sometimes I just crave simplicity. I like variety, but have we gone too far? Start fresh now.
Tidy up the clutter in your life. Make a pile of nonessential belongings. Before you send them off to landfill, ask yourself if someone else might have use for it. Something you may not need or have too much of will most likely fit someone else’s need. Only purchase essential and necessary items, and stick to just what is on the list.
Life is not solely about making choices; it is about making the right choices for you. Pick the paths that are most suitable for you, but be mindful of your environment and the impacts you have. The challenge is finding the right path and ignoring being pushed in hundreds of different directions every day. Be consistent and persistent; stay focused.
A tree starts with something as tiny and simple as a seed. Think of yourself as a growing seed. It doesn’t need more than water, air, and nutrients in the soil. Think quality, not quantity. You can find contentment and peace with fewer possessions, and more projects, events, and accomplishments to be proud of, as well as including more people you care about in your life.
Be a minimalist and not a consumerist, and you will begin to realize who you are, and how little you really need to pursue a lifetime of meaningfulness while journeying down a unique path of lifetime opportunities and randomness.