The older I get, the less I want or need. The older I get, the less I like to spend money. And when I have to buy something, I try to practice mindful shopping.
When I was younger, I wanted (and/or needed) all sorts of things. I wanted new clothes. I wanted tech gadgets. I wanted books. I was convinced that I needed a fast computer to be happy, not to mention a big house and lots of furniture. None of my shopping was mindful. It was mindless.
Now, at age fifty, buying things seems more like a hassle than a reward.
For one, buying something means I have to spend money — money that I'd rather keep for more important things, such as retirement. Or travel. Or beer. (Best of all: Travel and beer!)
Plus, there's the entire shopping process. It's a chore. If I need to buy a chainsaw, for instance (which I actually did this week), I have to research the best option. Then I have to find the best price. Then I have to order it or, worse, take time out of my day to go pick it up in person.
Then, after I buy a new thing, I have to store it. I have to dispose of the packaging, then add whatever I bought to my collection of Stuff. It becomes clutter in my life. (This is true whether the thing is actually clutter or not.)
I use my laptop computer all day every day, for instance, yet it still acts as mental (and physical) clutter. It's always here in the living room, sitting next to my recliner. I see it whenever I walk by. It's always on my mind.
I know I sound like an aging curmudgeon, but all of this is true. The older I get, the less Stuff I want — and the more I want to get rid of the Stuff I already own.
Now, I don't want to pretend that I don't buy things. I do. There's no question that I do. I even spend frivolously if I'm not diligent. But I'm far less likely to buy things than I used to. And when I do buy things, I tend to be purposeful about my purchases. I try to be a mindful shopper.
Let's use the chainsaw as an example. [Read more…]