Well, it’s about eight months in to our minimalist journey and I’m still fighting off the desire for things almost every day. There’s the Canon 70D camera body with the EF-S 10-22mm wide-angle lens that Casey Neistat uses for his daily vlogs. The Zig Zagger skateboard that a friend recommended to me a few weeks ago (I have no idea how to skateboard yet). Unfortunately, those are just the ones that came to mind and while I could go on, I’ll spare you the list. It seems that finding things to want still comes quite naturally to me.
I can usually justify things to myself, too. Sure, that better camera and lens would seriously improve the quality of video for the weekly vlogs I do for this site. I find myself getting frustrated by wind noise when I’m recording outside and having a camera that allows for an external microphone would be really beneficial for that. So in theory, the justification is there, but the fact of the matter is there are people making way better films than I am using significantly lesser equipment. The skateboard, just seemed like it would be cool to learn how to skateboard – not as great a reason.
We can convince ourselves of just about anything if we spend enough time trying. I’ve written about why I stopped using Amazon Prime for purchases – I found myself one-click purchasing my way out of problems that would have been solvable with just a little creativity. Spending months purging our household was super productive and has seriously improved our daily lives. It all goes to crap if we don’t stop acquiring new things as well and prevent a future need for additional purging.
Despite still wanting things, avoiding the impulse to buy has gotten easier. When the desire starts to build I reflect on all the time and energy that Amy and I spent undoing several years of acquisition. I think about being grateful for all that I have and remember to do the best I can with what I have now. I don’t immediately click that purchase button anymore and thank goodness, because it was hurting me in more ways than one.
Reflecting on this, here are a few reasons why the feeling of ‘want’ can be so hard to bat down:
We’re looking for a shortcut
If only we had this one thing, we’d be better off than we are now. Through marketing, we’re taught that we can make progress towards our goals by simply buying something. We’re tricked into thinking we can buy a better, healthier, stronger version of ourselves. The overwhelming majority of the time, this is not true. We do not need an iPad to watch yoga videos to get in shape, even though Apple will tell you it’s the best way to make progress towards that goal. A better camera will not make me a better filmmaker. On the other hand, we typically just have take action using the tools we have available to us to get a step closer to our desired outcome.
We want to keep up with others
Until I saw Casey Neistat describe his camera setup, I had basically written off the Canon 70D as a silly upgrade from the 60D. Afterwards, I immediately wanted to upgrade and spend way more money than I ever should on a camera setup for future videos. The problem is that Casey is a filmmaker that has made millions of dollars from his videos and has spent the last 15 years of his life making them. My idealist self does believe that I can do similar things, but considering that I already have camera gear that works pretty well, why should I be shooting on the same stuff he has? If 50,000 of you subscribe to Break the Twitch’s YouTube channel, then maybe I’ll consider it. 🙂
We want to remedy an insecurity
Since the 1950’s marketing and advertising has grown from the basis of creating a need, in other words, creating an insecurity to be filled. When an advertisement is made, it isn’t being written to you – it’s being written to the person you desire to be. The implied solution, is the product being sold. After buying hundreds of things over the last several years, I can personally tell you it has made me no more secure in myself than I was before. In contrast, what did build my self-confidence was the opposite: donating most of my clothing. Once I realized that my worth was not derived from the things I owned, I felt much more confident in many ways.
Take a moment to consider something that you’ve wanted recently. Leave a comment below with your thoughts on why and let’s discuss.