By Sweta Choudhury from Kingston University, London, United Kingdom
Glancing at the stores at the mall, I stumble upon a massive red sign saying “SALE” and a smile lights up my face, I hurriedly rush towards one of the stores in anticipation to witness some amazing offers. You know it might seem weird but if you pause for a minute to ponder amidst the chaos of the crowd around you, you will perhaps realize that several individuals like me rush to malls hearing the word “SALE” and possibly return with stuff that they already own or is bare of much use which eventually piles up in the corner of the cupboard covered in a blanket of dust. Surreal how brands play with the brain and almost inculcate a sense of trigger in us to keep purchasing more and more until there is a pang of impulsive guilt haunting us in the form of month-end bills at our doorsteps. While most of this can be termed as the skill of convincing and marketing in the world of management. The various cultural, social, personal, and psychological effect it creates on a consumer, and the buying culture often remains unspoken. While consumer behaviour, which in mere terms is the study of how consumers use and dispose products in the market based on several effects such as the ones mentioned above, an aging expert, on the other hand, believe that behaviour patterns amongst consumers are variable, for instance, senior buyers have specific reasons while choosing to ‘add to the cart” compared to youngsters. Millennials are recognized as impulsive shoppers which in the long term seem particularly damaging.
Similarly, behaviour patterns of one particular economic class might differ from another. Due to the class, background, and other aspects of modern society. However, several buying patterns today have resulted in a questionable frustrated relationship between materialism and gratification. This has witnessed an adverse impact on the global population. Hence, many people seem to be proposing and experimenting with the notion of “minimalistic living” whereby people knowingly live life on fewer possessions and test their coping mechanisms along with their emotions and self-control. Yes, you heard that right, living with the least possible stuff! Interesting right? So, what is this minimalistic concept and why is it so crucial especially for today’s generation? Perhaps let us explore some answers below.
WHAT IS MINIMALISM AND WHY IS IT SO SIGNIFICANT?
While it seems easy to chant “less is more” In reality, the entire idea of minimalism is a conscious decision to survive with fewer possessions, sounds fancy but tough to follow it. Interestingly, researchers seem to faintly notice that stepping into this lifestyle inculcates a sense of happiness, fulfillment, along with a sense of liberty. With the materialistic millennials behaviour patterns that begin with brags about a Gucci bag to flaunting the latest Rolex watch, perhaps it is indeed a lifestyle that necessitates attention considering the current environment warnings. Consumerism and satisfaction by shopping haphazardly have shown a negative connection with the environment followed by higher financial difficulties and subsidiary levels of personal and mental well-being.
Furthermore, Oniomania or shopping addiction is increasing, it is observed in several American teenagers where youngsters obsessively shop to ignore the anxiety and find a way to suppress their stress with an infinite amount of materialistic items such as clothes, shoes, bags and the list seems possibly endless. Many people use the easy trick of retail therapy or “Oh let’s go shopping with pals” as a way to cope up with sadness and convince themselves they are happy. This, in reality, is untrue, as “buying something in a mall “presumably suppresses the impulses that trigger a mental breakdown but to be honest is not the ideal long-term solution to deal with the problems around us. This entire idea of going shopping instead of going to therapy or counselling is exactly why people should be made conscious of this minimalistic lifestyle.
THE LOW CONSUMPTION LIFESTYLE AND VOLUNTARY SIMPLICITY
The low- consumption lifestyle is inter-related to several behavioural patterns amongst varieties of people. Simply because of how one thinks is how one adapts and decides in beginning about changes in their lives. One such lifestyle is “Voluntary Simplicity” which embraces the idea of self- sufficiency, material simplicity, self- awareness, and ecological awareness. In short, it enhances and inculcates the notion of “self” in the picture. This is certainly very significant as any sort of reflection with yourself is one of the initial steps towards personal growth and open-mindedness. Therefore, naturally, this leads to happier personalities and greater life satisfaction in every possible way, whether it is about adopting a minimalistic lifestyle, choosing to start a healthy diet, or even wanting to practice a complex diet pattern to increase a sense of self- control. One of the commonly observed positive aspects of adopting a low consumption lifestyle is the contentment with the purpose of existence which in turn completes the psychological needs in a person.
PEOPLE WHO CHOSE TO ADOPT THIS LIFESTYLE AND MADE A DIFFERENCE
With the environment showcasing signs of distress and disasters, it seems to be a sign “nature is crying out for help” and as much it is easier to write about a lifestyle change, the harder it is to be consistent with it. Every individual at a certain point particularly after hitting a certain age wishes to alter the way they live and function, while most of it usually happens to be out of pressure or the need to do it, there are a few people who have cheerfully adapted to the minimalistic lifestyle.
One such instance is Melissa Louis who in her blog “Minimalist: Have Less, be More” pens her journey from how she turned herself from a shopaholic to successfully living the low consumption lifestyle. Melissa, who says she often compared herself to other girls from her school and desired to own expensive possessions like them. Despite owning about 100 pairs of shoes and around 30 pairs of jeans and barely any place to store, Melissa realized she was extremely unhappy and severely depressed. Further in her blog, she gives her readers a few tips to control psychological urges of shopping. Buy less, choose well she says as one of her major tips to overcome shopping addiction. Lastly, she admits that living a minimalistic life, has helped her save for emergency funds instead of living in debts and given her a choice of freedom to spend in things she loves doing.
Similarly, famous Indian comedian Vir Das, took his fans by surprise when he posted about his “capsule wardrobe concept.” Which is a concept where individuals narrow down their clothes and favourites to live with the least? “It saves a lot of money and confusion on what to wear he says” the comedian further admitted that since a year ago he has been trying to live the minimalistic way and would rather spend money on adventures than buying things. Following his announcement on his official Instagram, his fans had a series of mixed reactions to this unexpected reveal.
2020 has been a wake- up call for the entire world. Leaving aside the global virus pandemic this year has also showcased several warning signs concerning the environment. This is a message that we as individuals must change certain ways of living to sustain the land, we are part of. Hence the minimal way of living life is one of the many ways we can contribute towards a change in lifestyle. Just because something is on “SALE” does not mean we need it. Small steps like finishing old bottles of makeup before investing in a new one, recycling old clothes by donating before purchasing new ones can make a huge impact. Remember that change begins the day we decide to alter the way we think. It is sad to witness a bunch of millennials drowning themselves in a world of materialistic pleasures to forego anxiety, stress, and simply ignoring the existing void within themselves. It is understandable, that making a major lifestyle change isn’t easy. But make it a point to contribute to the space you live in by whichever suitable way. Whether it is adapting the low consumption lifestyle or practicing veganism. Don’t forget to heal, be happy, and remain healthy throughout the process of change as it is surely the only constant cycle in our lives.