When was the last occasion that you lost track of time? Were you reading a book, or playing a game with your kids, or lost in a sewing project?
I’m trying to lose track of time more. As a reformed clock watcher this is a challenge. I used to work backwards from a watch for most of my day. If it takes me 20 minutes to walk to work, plus 10 if I stop at Starbucks, thirty minutes to blow dry my hair, 30 minutes for breakfast, shower with hair wash is 15 minutes, want to run 10k and that would be about an hour, 20 minutes to fully wake myself and put on my running gear…. I need to be up by 6am to get to work by 9am.
Last fall we went on a beach vacation and I left my cell phone and watch at home. It was nice. I spent a lot of time just doing and not thinking about what was coming next.
When I think about being less wanty, about being focused on the present and what is great in my life right now, I get back to being engaged. Engaged with myself and engaged with others. When I focus in on the things that bring me joy and contentment, I don’t need the distraction and false high of shopping or things.
Step One was “don’t let it in the door“.
Step Two was create barriers.
Step Three: shift your focus.
It may seem obvious, but there’s so much more to life than new clothes and bigger homes. A while back there was an inspirational list floating around called Regrets of the Dying. This is a list compiled by someone that worked with palliative care patients. Regret #2 is I wish I hadn’t worked so hard. The patients deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.
When I start thinking about wanting things, about granite kitchen counter tops and vacations, I give my head a shake. I have great family, good health and all my needs are met. I’m one of the lucky ones.
Here are some ways to shift your focus and get over the want.
- Hobbies: just because you’re cleaning out closets does not mean you have to give up your hobbies. In fact, by getting rid of the non-essentials you should have more time for the things you really love to do. Engage in that craft project, find some quiet time to work on that novel and join a running group. The high from creative pursuits and the endorphins from exercise will erase any thoughts of buying.
- Relationships: I always lose track of time when I’m on the phone or Skype with family or friends. I look up and an hour has passed. Engage with people, not your credit card, and you’ll quickly get over the thought that a new handbag will be life changing.
- Breathe: in stressful moments I look for diversions. Sometimes this is in the form of spending. A particularly difficult jog with a toddler in a stroller, one where I end up holding the toddler and pushing the stroller more than running, and my thoughts turn to a $12 stress relieving lunch at Whole Foods or my favorite pannini place. I’ve found that a couple of deep breaths helps me let go of my frustrations and my stress spending thoughts. If you’re frustrated and ready to do damage with your credit card take a minute for some deep breaths and calm thoughts. Nothing you buy will relieve the stress and frustration of a tough day.
I like to remind myself that the rational side of my brain knows that new things don’t change my life. I change my life.
If you struggle with the want, how do you remove yourself from it? What are your go to happy things that aren’t based in buying?
Like what you read here at The Minimalist Mom? Sign up by RSS or Email to get posts delivered to you. You can also find The Minimalist Mom on Facebook(I’ve deleted my personal account but have a page for this blog). Comments are always read, appreciated and responded to – even if we don’t agree on the subject at hand.