As I pen this down sitting on a white sandy beach, listening to the waves crash against the shore, and feeling the warm sun on my face. It’s not just the tropical environment that’s making me feel super zen, it’s also the fact that I chose to live with what’s around. I have the freedom to come and go as I please, giving myself permission to soak in the moment just a little longer. I am not worried about where the nearest mall or shopping centre is, I am only concerned about making incredible memories with the atmosphere and people around me.
Is this a dream?
No. This is the perk of “Living with Less” and a scenario that has become my reality.
How did I turn into one?
I had been living in Gurgaon, New Delhi Capital Region, apartment for Six years, the longest anywhere post moving out of my home at the age of 18 to study in Bangalore. Ever since I have moved 13 houses, 9 cities, and 3 countries. When my company transferred me to Gurgaon in 2009, little did I know I will end up spending the longest in the same city due to career progression which lead to better financials giving me more freedom to unleash the shopper in me. Six years equals a lot of stuff if you are a shopaholic! Isn’t it?
Move after six years with excessive stuff caused me to sink into temporary holes of depression. The process seemed more emotional than seemed warranted. I was forced to stare at things I acquired in the heat of the moment and then see them with fresh eyes. What is this junk and why do I have to pack it up with me? This bunch of bags that looked so mangled, this unflattering pair of shoes, those designer watches, and many attires? I couldn’t think of one thing with value. If my stuff was a reflection of life, my life seemed to be filled with junk.
Thus began the purge that continues to this day. The want of living with less.
Before every move, I started to dedicate a few nights to getting rid of things that I hadn’t used for a year or more before professional movers come to pack. It was psychologically liberating and saved me time unpacking when I moved to a new place. For instance, I end up donating half of my stuff to a local NGO every time. I now live on an Island in The Maldives and moved here with two suit cases a year ago. In the last one year there has never been a moment when I missed any thing that I needed to live and I don’t possess. This forced me to think and objectively assess, may be its pointing towards the fulfillment out of living sustainable and mindful life.
Shopping is no longer a therapy
It has been almost six years since the purge began. Shopping is no longer a therapy. I no longer acquire stuff as a hobby. That’s amazing since I spent 30 percent of my free time in the malls, shopping, at one point! I take this as a sign that I have more fulfillment in my life—I don’t need to seek fulfillment in shopping because there are other things I want to spend money on. TRAVEL. Traveling only added to this. Having traveled to around 40 countries, most of them in the last 10 years, it extensively opened my eyes. I haven’t always been traveling light however in Prague when my Air BnB host turned around and gave me an advice to travel light after carrying my 25 kg suitcase three floors up; I was pretty embarrassed. Dave, if you are reading this, your one advice changed the way I travel and live today. I returned from that trip lighter, but also more importantly, happier this time around. And this was indeed one of the benefits of travel I had never seen coming. I experienced this newly acquired ‘hate’ relationship towards my stuff and the act of buying new things for the sake of consumerism. Traveling with less made me need less, needing less made me want less, wanting less made me buy less, and ultimately everything turned into worrying less and living a lighter existence overall. I couldn’t be happier! The only change was packing light and buying less stuff on travel and otherwise. But that’s only a small piece of this pie. The great thing about traveling light is that it doesn’t have anything to do with your travel budget, personal style or age. It’s all about putting experiences first! It changed the way I travel and Live now.
Living an Intentional Life
Living intentionally means understanding what you believe in and stand for, and making sure every step you take and decision you make aligns with those values. Simple living has transformed my life. Living with less has helped me discover what I value the most in life, what I love, and what works for me. It’s refocused my attention and energy into the things that make me happier and healthier. I’ve been able to identify what’s most important to be and what my values are. I’ve stopped rushing and I devote time to focusing on my purpose and passion. Living with less has taught me to slow down and stress less, which has led to better health; my anxiety is under control and I experience better sleep. I’ve learned to be kinder to others and to myself; because I’m intentional with my consumption in all aspects of life.
Experience over Substance
On my travels my time and energy is always better spent on making new memories instead of being preoccupied with vanity metrics. Connecting with locals, meeting new people, touring different areas and trying new foods are the things I remember, not what dress I was wearing. Repeating clothes is no more a hesitation.
Traveling with less doesn’t just mean having lighter bags, but also a lighter agenda. The weight of a busy itinerary can feel just as heavy as an over-stuffed bag, so I’ve learned to keep it stress-free, which also allows me to appreciate more of each place. Instead of chasing, I try hopping on the road less traveled and getting a little lost. I Spend more time interacting with locals and learning about the culture instead of being late for trains, planes and automobiles. Even if it means visiting ‘less’ number of places than I had hoped.
Confidence and Contentment
Living with less allows me to identify my priorities and have the confidence to use them to steer me through life. Understanding what my values are and discovering what matters most to me in life has led to me having the confidence to let go of things and people who hold me back or make me unhappy. I’ve found confidence to pursue life goals, nurture strong friendships, and forge my own path in life. I’m content knowing the things I bring into my life are useful, the people I allow close to me are supportive and caring, and the life I’m living is led with intention and purpose.
Living with less
Peeling down to the necessities has its challenges. This change is helping me understand that my once ‘need’ to buy more things was nothing more than fleeting emotions that I no longer feel.
Simplifying isn’t a one-step process of cutting things out. It’s a slow and an ongoing process, not only of simplifying but of putting a focus on what’s essential and then continuing. No matter what happens, I can never see going back to hoarding stuff again. Living with less stuff has been extremely liberating and leads to much joy. It’s always easy to pack and unpack. No hard time deciding what to wear. There is enough mental space not worrying about things.
As I embarked on this lifestyle journey sub consciously to buy and own less, I feel a lot less attached to what I still own and rarely ever crave material things. A change I never saw happening, but a change I’m grateful for.
Have you ever thought of consuming mindfuly?