Lighten: Stop Adding Stuff!
“Live simply, so that others may simply live.” — Mahatma Gandhi
“Lighten” is about reducing the things I own, use and buy.
My first resolution is a simple decision: not buying any new piece of clothes, shoes, accessories, make up, jewelry for myself for at least the next 3 months. No sales shopping, no impulse buying walking past those shops I love in Marylebone high street or no browsing on the Internet those fabulous Robert Clergerie shoes and those Kenzo bargains on eBay (I am a big second hand shopper of selected designer apparels). I will also stop proactively buying things for my 2 teenagers unless it is something they need for school. But I will continue to buy presents for others, which I love doing!
Four weeks into that resolution I have found it hard at times not to enter in shops I like. This had become part of my routine and I would often “fall for something” I liked in the moment. The French have a colourful expression to indicate the action of reluctant impulse buying — “craquer”, which literally means “cracking” in the sense of breaking one’s resolve. “Craquer” also applies in the context of trying to fight addictions to drinking or cigarettes. “Aujourd’hui, j’ai craqué pour une cigarette!”. I stopped smoking for good 18 years ago after multiple attempts so I know exactly what that word means!
In some ways, stopping to add stuff to my cupboards, chest of drawers and shelves feels like the easiest path of my journey. I have the power to exercise complete control over what I choose to buy and carefully using that power is deeply rewarding. I have missed on a few shopping trips with friends, visits to this new “incredible pop up shop”, but overall, this has meant more time for my family and for myself.
When in doubt, I also often reflect on a recent service trip to Laos my daughter Alice (16) did with her school a few months ago. When she came back after 10 days of sharing the life of a local family living in a one room bungalow, Alice’s main observation was how frugal and simple the life of 70 families living in the village was. Each family members had their clothes and possessions bundled in one single plastic bag stored by their bed. Alice’s biggest take away is how happy, joyful and generous the people of Ban San Udon were.
PS: Cherry on the cake, along the way, based on previous behaviours, I have not spent around £500 those past few weeks, which I can choose to save, give, or spend on things that matter…