Saturday, 23 January 2016

The Diderot Effect

Are you aware of the phenomenon that we are buying more stuff than we need? I was spring cleaning my closet the other day and got myself into a bout of depression when I realized the many new garments I have accumulated over the past month or so and never got a chance to see the light of the day as I had nowhere in particular to go to while my uneventful life revolves around staying at home 90% of the time. I had every intention of keeping my look and style fresh and presentable as an Image Consultant and hoping that I would be impressive when / if I had the chance (in the immediate future) to attend networking events or to meet people (potential clients) just in case. I have rationalized my new purchases as 'bridging goods' that connect my current life to my hoped-for futures. I was chasing a wild goose.

This is the 'Diderot Effect' I would like to address in this blog. By definition, it is the introduction of a new possession into a consumer's existence which will often result in a process of spiraling consumption. The purchase of one new item often leads to the purchase of another. We buy a new top and immediately begin looking for new shoes to match. Do I need that new top? No. Do I have shoes to go with my new purchase? Not really. Does it justify my expenses on a new pair of shoes just because I bought mindlessly this new top (an unplanned purchase) which I thought was something I needed at the spur of the moment? 

There is always something newer and prettier in the market but how are we supposed to catch up with the Joneses when everything comes and goes in the blink of an eye? There will never be a level where you will be done wanting things. What is on sale that catches your eyes could more often than not cost you more in the end than originally assumed. My new top is not going to make me a super star and I have enough tops in my wardrobe to create outfits that wows. I remember resisting the urge to buy a die-cut machine a while back, even though it was a good idea at the time when I poured my all into making beautiful craft and the machine seemed to be a necessity. I was aware of the fact that the items which I would be tempted to buy as a result of purchasing the machine would cost me a fortune. I never looked back and yet I created beautiful artwork without resorting to the help of that machine. 

There are many ways to master the Diderot Effect. First off, I don't subscribe to commercial emails / catalogues. I don't visit the malls unless I absolutely need something (which is rare) and I refuse to log on to shopping websites which are usually the culprit of unnecessary purchases. As I learnt from my mistakes, I will only consider buying items that fit my current system and I set myself limits to only consume at a level I can comfortably afford.I find myself more resourceful when I restrict myself not buying anything new. Let go of wanting things is easier said than done but nevertheless one of the best means to overcome the consumption tendency. 

In Diderot's words, "Poverty has its freedoms; opulence has its obstacles."

Friday, 15 January 2016

Happy with Nothing New

I know first hand how my 'wants' are fleeting, and if succumbed to dish out money to buy whatever that is, a product or service, usually more so with the former, I end up regretting the purchase as soon as my adrenaline rush is over, hating myself for spending ruthlessly, not happy with the merchandise I thought I wanted (or needed) only a while ago. As time passes, I came to realise that something new doesn't make me happy, let alone euphoric. The world as we are inhabiting in does allow conveniency to rule our lives, but I have learned to be satisfied with what I have, and life seems to be so much more relaxed as a result.

I only got myself the first tablet in 2014, when I need the features to be part of my communication mode while I traveled. New models are releasing every other month and I have no desire to update my gadget without feeling like I have fallen behind the entire world. I won't be queuing up for the latest smartphone unless my tablet die on me. Think about it, would you be changing a new car every other year just because the new model is out when your existing one is perfectly working, getting you to your destination safe and sound? It won't make you a new / better person with the newest of the new. 

I didn't bother renewing my driving licence because deep down I know that I won't be buying a car. There are so many different ways of commuting without taking the wheels. I love the idea of car-pooling or sharing a ride with others who have the same destination in mind. The car is just a means to achieving a goal and possessing the product (i.e. a car in this case) doesn't justify it. Are you aware of the co-work space available for hire everywhere these days? Who needs an office when all you really need is a desk space to get your job done, and meeting other co-workers could be just an added bonus? 

Quality of life is much much more important than quantity of stuff, knowing that we don't get to take anything with us when our time is up. Being a vintage addict, I appreciate the charm of used items and the beauty of them which are simply deprived of in brand new items which you get from shops produced en masse. I no longer buy things for the sake of shopping, and I have given some of my favourite garments a new lease of life by taking them to a seamstress. 

I strongly suggest you take some time observing the clever advertising media, have your eyes and ears open to the concept of collaborative consumption, check out the options of sharing, borrowing, bartering and exchanging (swapping) instead of buying everything new. You get to keep your hard earn cash and be part of creating sustainability in one go too!

Friday, 8 January 2016

How to declutter your pad?

Hi everyone,
I am back after a LONG break from my Newsletter 'Simple Living & Lifestyle Musings', which I shall have them transferred to this site soon. Having been through a helluva roller coaster ride since our last encounter, I decided to share my fresh perspectives on the subject of simplicity and minimalism once again, starting today, here in this blog with better content and I invite you to join me on this journey of a mindful life of experience. 

As we are 9 days into the new year (yes already!), and Spring cleaning is approaching at full speed, I'd like to quickly touch on the topic of decluttering your home, suggesting ways to make your pad clutter-free without much drama. Are you ready?

Rather than tackling your home in one go (which is not realistically possible), give yourself a time frame (say 15-30 minutes a day) or deal with just one area at a time. Start with the easiest and maybe the smallest zone to build momentum. As you go through the clutter, have a trash bag or carton box handy where you can ruthlessly dump items which you haven't used or remember having. You can always go back afterwards for reviewing (which I don't recommend) as these items could be donated or given away. I don't advocate throwing away items which end up at the landfill and I do believe whatever you trash could be someone else's treasure. Make sure you find a place for each item you decided to keep during the process of decluttering and that you return the item to its place every time you finish with it.

I am a bit of a freak when it comes to organising and tidiness. I like clean surfaces and knowing where everything is which is totally do-able when you make a habit of it. As I don't get that many snail mail except for promotional leaflets and catalogues, I have almost unsubscribed everything to reduce paper waste and getting my inbox to zero email at the end of the day is so so satisfying. Instead of cleaning the pots and pans after meals, I do it while waiting for the food to be cooked. Another way to beat procrastination is to finish small jobs as you encounter them throughout the day. Take the trash out when the bin is full, put your laundry into the washer, wipe your dining table and kitchen top after meals. Put your extra shampoo and moisturiser in the cabinet instead of leaving them on the shower caddy. (I don't recommend buying toiletries in bulk in the first place but then again it is hard to resist the temptation of a discounted bundle or items on sale).

Personally, 'a place for everything and everything in its place' is my mantra to stay organised. Let me know what you do to maintain a clutter-free home!