Taking small steps to become less dependent on our belongings goes a long way
In a world where something newer and better is almost always available for purchase, society tends to value material objects. We often seek out the latest, trendiest gadgets we can find. As consumers, we tend to forget about the importance of the natural world which exists beyond material possessions.
The value we place on our material objects is a prominent characteristic of the western world. Some people might not even realize their own materialistic habits. For the purposes of this article, I will define materialism as: “A preoccupation with or stress upon material rather than spiritual or intellectual things.”
The fact is we are currently more attached to our belongings than people ever have been. Many of us cannot imagine life without our favourite possessions, let alone without any possessions.
The best, if not the only way to combat this epidemic is to start with yourself. We can’t change the mindset of millions of people living materialistically. So instead, I’ve listed some tips to help you become less materialistic, and a little more in tune with the natural world around you.
The first step to becoming a little less materialistic is being aware of your problem. It’s unrealistic to claim that you’re not a materialistic person, especially living in today’s western society.
Unless you are practicing an anti-materialistic lifestyle, living in the woods in a house you built yourself, there is no way you don’t place too much value on your material goods. For the most part, we all do. Begin your path to a less materialistic lifestyle by acknowledging your attachment to your belongings, and admit you want to work on that.
Since many of us value our technology, such as cellphones, laptops and tablets, more than most of our other belongings, limiting the time you spend on your devices can make a difference. Start by monitoring just how much time you spend on your electronic devices, and try to periodically knock off 10 per cent of that number until you reach a point where you are happy with your typical device usage.
Another basic tip is to just spend more time outside. The power of nature is stronger than you might think. Plan an afternoon, a day or even a weekend of walking, hiking, biking or any other activity that lets you enjoy the outdoors and get back to nature. Taking notice of the natural world can do wonders for your mental health, and can be a sharp reminder that belongings are not everything.
Most importantly, get to know yourself. Sometimes, life becomes chaotic and we get lost in the sea of our to-do list. We have so much on our plates, and we tend to reward ourselves with material things. But by submitting yourself to your belongings, you might forget who you are and what you truly enjoy. Look for those pockets of time, and spend that time on you.
Finally, I’m not saying you have to get rid of everything and live an entirely new life. I’m not asking you to throw away all possessions and meditate for eight hours a day. Instead, if you feel you are too glued to your belongings, take small steps to become less attached.
The best way to change your lifestyle is to start small and work your way up. The goal of implementing a less materialistic mindset in your everyday lifestyle is to make changes in moderation. Instead of feeling addicted to buying new things, you should hope to feel like there is more to life than just your belongings. Trying out one or two of these tips is a great way to get started.
Graphic by Alexa Hawksworth