I turn another year older today, and as I’m wont to do, I like to ruminate on what this aging process has taught me. This year turned out to be educational in more ways than one.
I had lunch with a friend recently, talking about what’s been going on in our lives. I mentioned that I had slowed down significantly in the rat race, opting to sit by the sidelines, as opposed to running the race down by the track.
While we agreed that it isn’t the easiest thing to do, and involves sacrifice, I shared that my choice was borne out by an approach to life that I’d adopted in the past year – being content with what I have.
Slowing down on the chase for more material goods
I think the trap many of us find ourselves falling into (myself included), is to chase for more, or newer things in life. I refer here to material goods.
There is and always will be, something newer or more interesting out there. At one time in my past, I found myself wanting to own the latest mobile phone in the market. And I would buy the newest ones when they are launched. I was young, flush with my own income, and impressionable.
Fortunately, I quashed that interest quite quickly, before the mobile phone companies started releasing a new phone every year with ever increasing price tags! LOL! 😛
Then, my attention turned to bags. I started out with non-designer bags, gradually transitioning to designer bags and then climbing up the designer ladder. I’d eye up new designs, or buy myself a coveted bag every year, ostensibly as a reward, or to commemorate a milestone.
About 2 years ago, I called this habit quits LOL! Now, I say I’m a bagaholic (retired) 😛
Then, it was beauty products. And look where I am now LOL 😀
The thing is, I spent about 20 years on the treadmill, working, earning a comfortable income, saving and spending. It was easy to buy when you know that a comfortable pay cheque will arrive eventually to cover your expenses. I never got into debt or spent more than I had. It was all very calculated, but on hindsight, rather extravagant.
Change in lifestyle and a change in mindset
A few years ago, I experienced some life changes that necessitated a change in my lifestyle. Since then, I have adopted a far more relaxed, casual lifestyle. I no longer trawl the shopping malls, looking at all the bright, shiny new things that entice you to own them. I no longer work nor associate much with people in the corporate world.
I stopped hanging out with people whose only interest in life is to talk about or discuss their newest acquisitions. I stopped thinking about what I did not have, and started thinking about what I already did.
In the process of reconciling all the changes going on in my life, I found myself experiencing a change in mindset. I stopped wanting things.
And the lightbulb went on.
I started enjoying what I owned, and I was, and am, content.
Being content with what you own
I think our lives, social media, and the way marketing has evolved, has convinced us that we need more new, bright and shiny things, in order to be happy. We are also convinced by society that if we are at a certain stage, or position in our lives or career, we should own certain things. Or at least, own better versions of what we already own.
It could be a big ticket item like a new car or house, or it could be something seemingly innocuous like a new lipstick.
I speak here not of treats or necessities. But whether we need to ‘upgrade’ what we already own, or if we can be content with what we have.
I achieved this moment of clarity about a year ago. Much in my life that was going through upheavel had settled by then, and I felt less enthused about seeking out shiny, new things.
The regular among you might have noticed this as well, as I stopped or slowed down in buying the newest makeup or skincare products in the market. I preferred to focus on what I already had or had bought before.
And I found a sweet spot, when it came to blogging.
I’m still interested in what’s new, but it no longer drives me or my passion. That’s when I stopped feeling discontented about being passed over for younger or other bloggers or online influencers. It stopped bothering me, and I was happier.
This is true in other aspects of my life as well. I’m happy with my car and have no desire nor intention to change it unless I absolutely have to. I’m happy with a roof over my head, and have no intention to move anywhere else either.
I’m happy with what I own, and discovering or rediscovering old favourites in my closet and bag cupboard. I found that I want for little, in terms of material goods, and with that, I knew I could therefore live on less.
So I did.
I don’t have a minimalist lifestyle
I must stress that I don’t lead a minimalist lifestyle or anything of that ilk. I have things, and I like my things. I am just more aware about if or when I need something new.
I can say also that this will be something that you may realize as you get older, as I have. I realized that I wanted to stop and get off the treadmill, and quit the rat race. I wanted to pause and smell the roses, without deadlines dictating my every move. I wanted to spend my time with the people who matter. And all this came at a time when I had found this contentment in my life.
So I did it. I now do my own thing, work when I want to, stop when I don’t.
I don’t have much, and I have to be mindful of wanting more. But I have enough, and I am content and happy. And really, I’m probably living my best life right now 😀
Incidentally, in the past few months, I’ve had good and bad things happen in my life, that’s necessitated me being present for the people in my life who matter. Being flexible with my time has allowed me to be, through the happy and the stressful, for which I am very thankful. The universe does work its magic in mysterious ways, and cliched as it is, everything does happen for a reason. The reason sometimes takes longer to emerge than you expect 🙂
If you are struggling with life a little, or struggling to keep up with the Jones, or just find yourself feeling discontented with how things are going, may I suggest you pause for a moment. You don’t have to give up your job (few of us have that luxury) but you can think about what makes you content, and if you too, can be content with less, but to have more time. It might give you better perspective on things 🙂
All this said however, if you’re at the peak of your career, or at least in your 20s and 30s and forging your path through life, I suggest you go out there and be a go-getter and get it out of your system. So when you hit your 40’s like me, you too can afford to take this time out 😀
On this note, and with this food for thought, I’m taking my annual break at this time of year. No one should work on their birthday – it should be a law. I made it mine haha! I’ll be back in a week or two (you can see what I’m up to on Instagram @parisbmws – it’s my hangout!)
Be good! 😉