20 November 2013

Enough

Source: tumblr

I have already mentioned the subject of numbers and minimalism here, but I have been thinking more about that feeling of having enough. Does simplifying one's life help reaching that contentment state of "enough"? Is that feeling compatible with the desire for new things?

As Serge Latouche put it in his concept of "False Abundance" (or Fake Abundance, whichever is the most accurate translation), we live in a world where, although we do have (more than) enough objectively, we always feel that something is missing.

The Consumerist Cycle

That's the essence of consumerism really, an endless circle of feeling a gap in our collection of [insert item type here], buying stuff to fill that gap. Then realizing there is another gap somewhere else etc. without ever feeling content about the current state of affairs. This is a problem because we feel unsatisfied with the present situation, and because we spend a lot of time, energy and money in these material pursuits rather than redirecting them to more meaningful ends.

The Desire for New Things

As we learn in philosophy class in French high schools, desire is a part of human nature, and, apparently, we can't stop ourselves from desiring what we don't have. This is not necessarily a bad thing in itself, as there is much motivation, growth and evolution to be found in desire. How boring would life be, if we didn't ever look forward to anything new?

However, much excess can be fueled by desire, and, in our consumerist society, human desires have clearly been channeled into buying new things. This is only how the consumerist society has wired us, but we could redirect our natural tendency of desire toward other, more positive energy, like a desire to cultivate friendship, learn new skills, better ourselves, level up.

The Feeling of Enough

That's where the feeling of enough comes in. This is the essence of my definition of minimalism. Not owning as few things as possible, nor stop buying new stuff altogether out of some fabricated ideal. My minimalism is about shifting my mindset, deprogramming myself from the unhealthy desire for material things and cultivating the feeling that I have enough.

The good thing about "enough" is that it is personal. It is not the objective state of having enough, because we all objectively have enough (at least in the "West"). It is the subjective feeling that you don't really want something new right here, right now to fill some virtual gap in your physical possessions, no matter how many (or how few) you already have.

"Enough" and Purchase Habits

Now, does the feeling of enough mean that purchasing new material items is an evil plague to avoid at all costs? I think that would be too extreme. Consumption of new items isn't a bad thing, out of control consumerism that use our planet, wallets and energy is (at least in my values). I don't think there is any shame for a person with decent earnings, a healthy bank account, and basic needs paid for, to induldge in a beautiful item once in a while.

If you use the metaphor of food, eating healthily and treating yourself with a piece of cake once in a while is different than stuffing yourself silly with cake when you are depressed. You enjoy the cake much more when you eat only one piece in a while, without any "unhealthy habits" guilt looming over. Besides, you make a special occasion out of it because you don't eat cake every other day.

I feel like it is the same with new material purchases. A new item would be enjoyed more when we buy less often, and when the motivations for the purchase are healthy. Besides, there is the joy of anticipation, and the pleasure of integrating this new guest into your everyday life afterwards. And buying less doesn't feel like a restriction when you feel like you already have enough.


I still have a lot to ponder over the subject, and a long way to go to actually reach that state of mind when you don't get obsessed with new purchases. But I think that actively making myself realize I have enough is already a huge step toward buying less, simplifying my life and redirecting my energy toward other pursuits.

What about you? Do you feel like you have enough? How do you enjoy new purchases, are you satisfied with your current purchase habits and mindset?

13 comments:

  1. I will never stop making fashion purchases. I enjoy it, and spend within my means. But lately, yes I do feel like I have a lot. I don't follow any strict one in, one out rules, but I have no problem getting ride of things when I no longer have any use for them. Problem is I have things that are still serviceable, but maybe not the greatest. That is why I took so much enjoy in purchasing gifts...I get to use my money, yet I don't have the "burden" of keeping.

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    1. Yes, that's what I mean with moderation - I don't think there is a problem in indulging in some purchases especially if it is your hobby/passion... It's the excess that may need to be questioned. It's interesting, this take on gifts, I had never thought it that way haha. Enjoy the Christmas gift-buying season then :)

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  2. Great post Kali, I agree with all of it. I have had an overwhelming feeling of enough lately. Wardrobe-wise there are no more gaps to fill, and when I do find a new item to obsess over I usually know very well that I already have more than enough things that do the same job. After finding a party dress for Christmas party season and re-stocking on jeans there isn't anything that I really need. This month so far I have only bought skin care, plus I am treating myself to a body composition analysis at my gym. I thought I would do one now and a new one in six months, in order to track my progress :)

    I do love that I get to buy Christmas presents, though! I have almost finished my Christmas shopping already because I was so excited to get started, haha. I think I've been noting down gift ideas since June.

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    1. It's the same for me! Ever since I found the skinny minis (I've talked too much about these haven't I?) the weakest area of wardrobe which are pants is covered, and I have more than enough knits for winter now. I have been buying winter beauty products too though, l'Occitane karité hand cream for example. But's that seasonal more than anything. A body composition analysis? Like, the proportion of fat, muscle etc? I didn't know there were accurate methods to calculate these, it sounds like a good way to track progress indeed.

      I love buying Christmas presents too! Thinking about what people will like, finding the item, then wrapping it all and writing a card. Love it! I didn't quite take the time to dive into it yet this year though, too busy doing nothing during my holidays haha

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  3. Hello Kali, i am a first time commenter but actually following your blog for a long time. I like reading it.

    I agree with the food metaphore. My mom was telling me that when she was a child her parents bought clothes to her only for some special occasions (and feasts). Actually they were buying some fabrics and going to a tailor for the clothes that she wants. She was telling that she felt so happy every time she has something new to wear. And when i look at her and her sisters photos i see that they really look very nice and each of them have their self styles(is it the right word??). And after the mass production of clothes she says she lost that enjoyment of having new clothes.

    I usually feel that something missing in my wardrobe because it is not functional really. But that might be related with me. Maybe i do not fill complete so i shop for things which are not funtional but emotional purchases at the end. My wardrobe can be a miror of myself :)

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    1. Hello and thanks for this first comment, I'm happy to hear you enjoy reading it :)
      I completely see what you mean with your mom's experience. Things are always more of a pleasure when it's rare, besides, having them tailored probably means the clothes they got did fit better than mass market clothes do...

      But it is also true that it is difficult to be satisfied with your wardrobe if it isn't functional or adapted to your lifestyle. Maybe the wardrobe is a mirror of ourselves indeed!

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  4. the cake metaphor is perfect.
    i have to admit that i am buying way to much stuff lately. but you have to understand: my sister is living in the uk at the moment and so i get her to buy all the nice things i cant get here in germany for me. especially make up stuff like real techniques brushes and nars. and it is very tempting and dangerous because i dont spend the money right away. i will pay her back when she gets here over christmas.
    it least some of the stuff she bought for me are christmas presents.

    when it comes to clothes i feel like my style is changeing at the moment, so i feel the need for some adjustments. but luckily i get to benefit from the experienace of bloggers like you and dont make impuls purchases. i need new "everyday not just winter boots" for example. i fell in love with some expensive leather boots a few month ago but just realised that i have already fallen out of love again. at the moment i am thinking about some dr. martens... but first i have to make sure thats not just because i have been watching daria lately^^

    the uk shopping though... it has to stop. (there will be a huge december purchases post!)

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    1. note: most of the stuff my sister bought for me are things i wanted for a long time. so they are not complete impuls buys. but i still went a little overboard^^
      when it comes to make up i feel like having enough, i don´t get nervous about limited editions anymore. with the uk purchases i filled most of the gaps i saw. if there really where any gaps is another question^^

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    2. I see what you mean with the make up products and your sister being in the UK! Sometimes, we feel like we need to hurry and get things while we can, because it is not available where we live. I remember it was the same for me in Japan. It's great that you can use this opportunity to stock up on great make-up that you will really need and use. But it can be also a trap to buy stuff we don't need (ah, travel purchases!). You seem to have thought a lot about this though :)


      I think it is a bit difficult to shop for clothes when your style is currently changing. I have made a lot of purchase mistakes in 2011 and 2012 when my style was a bit blurry and I was experimenting a lot. I think it is OK to make some mistakes if they help understanding your style better. I'm happy to hear that my experience and that of other bloggers helped you making fewer mistakes. It is exactly what I hope when I share my journey with you guys.

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  5. always a question to think about i think. one of my favorite things is getting rid of things, ha!

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    1. It is true that it feels very liberating to get rid of useless clutter :)

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  6. I find that buying new things often leads me to want to buy more new things, rather than giving me the feeling that I have enough, whereas when I haven't bought anything new often that feeling of 'enough' is there. Obviously the solution can't be to stop buying altogether, because we do need new items from time to time, but it is interesting to observe how this seems to perpetuate itself. Maybe because I am more focused on material items? I open myself up to the possibility of acquiring new ones to get that item that I need, but a few others suddenly jump out at me too.
    I like that you mention that the feeling of enough is personal :) it's important to me to respect the level at which we currently feel satisfied, both in ourselves and other people. That way we can gently move towards change, rather than condemning it, which isn't a very useful strategy.

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    1. It's interesting what you say about buying new things leading to want to buy more. I had a discussion with a friend and she told me she refrained herself a lot from purchasing new items because she is afraid of spending too much if she "falls into that rabbit hole". I wonder where that comes from. In any case, I agree that the balance is personal, I think the best way to reach contentment is to learn to know oneself and adjust accordingly.

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