Untapped Potential

I recently encountered an article about not buying anything new for a whole year. It’s actually a practice that became familiar to me, not out of inspiration or thirst for a challenge, but out of sheer necessity. Over the past year, I brought very few new items into my home, other than replacing my essentials. It’s not that I wasn’t tempted by tech products and kitchen gadgets and the latest fashion trends; I simply couldn’t afford the price tags.

When I came across this idea again, I realized that even though I had done it somewhat unknowingly and involuntarily, the impact was still significant and the idea itself still resonated.

As an active minimalist, I thrive on the essentials, and the irreplaceable. I don’t feel an urgency to constantly update and upgrade, and I value quality over quantity. One of the teachings of minimalism that’s most stuck with me is that many of the things we hold on to have already served their purpose, and brought us peak fulfillment when we first acquired them. With this in mind, it’s easy for me to look back on the times something first came into my possession – a birthday, the start of a new job, a move, a splurge – and realize that these items will never bring me as much joy as they did when I first received them.

I’m not doing the No Shopping experiment this year, but I am giving more attention to its purpose and the positive impact it can have in our lives. Think about it: just simply asking the question, “What if everything I currently own is already enough?”, can vastly shift our perspective.

We start to wrap our minds around the truth that newer doesn’t always mean better, and that there will always be shinier, faster, smarter versions of the things that were once more than enough.

I’ve noticed that when I do start to get more things, I naturally want to keep going: once I have these chair cushions I’ve had my eye on, then I’ll be happy with this room. Once I buy this pair of shoes that goes with every item in my wardrobe, then I’ll stop buying. Once I, once I, once I.

It’s not that I wasn’t tempted by tech products and kitchen gadgets and the latest fashion trends; I simply couldn’t afford the price tags.

I have to remind myself that it never ends, that fulfilling one more “once I”, won’t bring me the sense of completion, of unmatched satisfaction that I’m fooled into believing it will. I have to look around and remember, that what I have was carefully chosen, is personally meaningful, and brings light and joy to my dwelling space and to my days.

One way I’ve started adopting the philosophy behind buying nothing new is by rereading my old books. My collection is small. Very small – mostly favorites, collecting dust after having read them once. How many times have you read the books on your shelf? How many new books have you gotten over the past year, paying little attention to the old?

It’s been such a joy going back and reading the books I know I love; seeing how I’ve changed since last reading them, and how as a reflection, the characters and plots themselves seem to have changed. It’s refreshing to reacquaint myself with them, rather than to be continually searching for my next page-turner.

I encourage you to find something that you own, and get to know it again, be it a book, a collection, a pair of running shoes, a kitchen utensil. Fully immerse yourself in its potential, in the joy it brings you, before you rush out to replace it.