Thoughts on: New Year Resolution, Single Tense.

New Year’s is one of my favorite times of the year. Admittedly, that largely has something to do with the list-making and goal-setting, especially when handwritten frantically in early morning light. Additionally, it also has to do with the exuberant hope that spills from, well, what is now a collection of newsfeeds, but what was then age old friendly conversation. As a person easily inspired by positivity, the general atmosphere is euphoric, at worst. Listing goals and resolutions is what I live for, and it is constantly being done and redone throughout the year, ad nauseum.

Particularly, I reflect on my shortcomings in the past year and try to make a devotion to turn it on its head and make it my strength in the year to come. Quite like that loaded interview question, where they ask you to state your biggest weakness, and you think that the smart response would be a weakness disguised cleverly as a strength. The most lose-lose question in the world. Except there’s no losing in this scenario.

Like any other human being, I had many shortcomings. Luckily (or is it so?), this year, I can easily pinpoint my weakest attribute of 2017 and I will safely say that 2018 would be much improved, if only I lived more forgivingly. Not living so much in absolutes, for the world is not made in that manner. I think the world at large could use a whole lot of forgiveness.

To be happy – The stress and anxiety that so consumes us could be attributed to having too much expectation, too much ambition. If we only loosen the reigns, then we will find the room to breathe.

To be successful – We start the year with a list of resolutions, then give up by the following week on all of our goals. Trying to maintain a strict regimen, we suffocate the positivity that could be discovered in the change, and the motivation is snuffed out. We begin the year already exhausted, disappointed, and hopeless. If we just learn to allow ourselves a slip up, forgive ourselves for our failure, then we can continue on to success, rather than lose all hope.

To be present – By being more forgiving in our game plan, I guarantee that we can enjoy the present moment more thoroughly.

To be kind – Similarly, just as we forgive ourselves, we can be more forgiving of those around us. For who is to say that what’s right for you, is right for anyone else. Who is anyone to have the liberty to categorize others into good and bad? For no human is better than any other human. We are all equal, but different.

To be human – There aren’t many things in this life that are forgiving. Time is not forgiving. Justice is not forgiving. Success is not forgiving. Money is not forgiving. Traditions are not forgiving. Even religions, most times, are not forgiving. We have a choice to be the forgiveness that the world seeks. That we all need.

Starting with me.

All consumption is not bad consumption.

As we near the holidays, and our ever increasing list of presents to buy continue to surmount to a mountainous thread of bullet points and check boxes that far surpass Santa’s naughty or nice list, I want to go ahead and say it. All consumption is not bad consumption.

But aren’t I a minimalist? Don’t I hate the idea of buying things? Doesn’t that make me pro-consumerism? Sometimes, labels are a bad thing. As much as I want this world to be black and white, good or bad, easy or difficult, it just isn’t. My husband will repeatedly remind me that there are areas of gray that we cannot escape. The majority of our lives is in grayscale, not in color.

I know that I always ding typical American consumerism as bad, but it does not mean all products you ever buy is a terrible purchase. It doesn’t mean I live under a rock and refuse to buy stuff completely. It DOES mean that there has to be an awareness to the fact that we were all raised to believe that continually reaching for more stuff will make us more worthy of people’s love and acceptance. The ding is against excess consumption, wasteful spending, gluttonous hoarding tendencies for things that do not matter. The ding is against devaluing goods (and the people who make them) in exchange for a few rungs to climb yet higher up the social ladder. Against tying yourself to decades of job enslavement for a few likes and thumbs up from your neighbors and friends. The ding is there for the destruction of the equating of more stuff to more success. This is where I funnel my displeased passion towards, not the stuff itself.

It all revolves around my own past shortcomings in my relationship with stuff. And I never want to go back. There is the saying that it doesn’t matter what you subtract, what matters is what you add in. So we must always be mindful of what we add in. It is the mindlessness of the entire thing that bothers me. I could blame the marketing, but the marketing fooled ME, so I am as much to blame as them. I am still slowly crawling out of the trap.

The point is to ascertain that I do not judge people for their consumption habits or their decision on what to include and not include in their lives. I am a minimalist, in the sense that I only surround myself with things I love. If I fall in love with something I don’t own yet, then that will be added to my wish list or to my list of things to save up for. I do not live without things.

I like certain goods.

I can appreciate good design.

I am drawn to a certain esthetic.

I appreciate good companies that help the environment or support good social causes.

I feel good when I support a local market or artist.

I like when my lifestyle is improved or made more convenient.

I show my appreciation for others by buying gifts.

But there is thoughtfulness behind the goods I choose to buy. it’s having the ethics at the heart of all of our purchased goods. This is originally why I felt it was right for me to add “Good goods” as a section to my blog. Because we can still buy what we need or want, in moderation, within good reason, and with good reasons. And I wanted to highlight those goods.

A minimalist may read this and roll their eyes. An already financially independent person may start to think that this slows down my progress towards my own personal independence, thus making me unsuccessful. Just like a regular person may read “anti-consumerism” and be turned off by the pros of being more cognizant of our day to day decisions and the reasoning behind them.  But the world is not in absolutes. We cannot label ourselves assuming that we will never choose to be something else. I am a million parts of one person, with multiple personalities, multiple objectives, multiple thoughts. By assuming that we are a believer of only one idea, we put a pressure on others to conform to one thing, to be less of themselves. The judging begins, and it doesn’t end, until the one being judged walks away. Which is a shame, because the door closes towards discussion about things such as mindful purchasing power before it has even opened. The most important conversations never reach the table, because we’ve pushed too hard. .  And wouldn’t that be a waste? What we need more of is forgiveness in the labels we place on ourselves. We need flexibility. When we don’t fit a cookbook recipe of what the whole world expects from a single word description, that’s when we start to define our uniqueness.

So let it be that you buy a gift for yourself, or someone else. All consumption is not bad consumption. I’d love a world that keeps it that way.

See also how we can be more than ourselves.