A Minimalism Moment: Holiday Shopping

The problem with having consumerism as the building block of your identity is that you might end up, through a series of perfectly well-informed and self-interested choices, with the same identity as somebody else.
— Zoe Williams

A good measure of what we write here concerning contentment will circle around our personal struggles with consumption. Much of 2015 was a purging of superfluous material possessions. But that only goes so far: you must treat not only the symptoms but also root out the cause. One major cause of our personal discontent is an acquisition syndrome, wrapping up like cancerous cells around the core of identity until no portion is unscathed.

With that stage set: The last handful of days we have jumped headlong into annual obligatory holiday shopping. The photo for this post was just yesterday at a shopping center supposedly modeled after an Italian resort town. Today, we endured The Woodlands Mall.

There was an element of enjoyment in shopping, of course—which quickly devolved into stress from crowds and overload on ubiquitous sales and clearance signs. We’ve been keenly aware this year, however, that a purchase makes us no more happy, human, or powerful. That mythical point of “I have arrived” is never achieved with a new gadget, car, or clothing article. 

It’s probably too late in December for a lot of us to heed the best advice on buying for others (and resisting the urge to buy from our own lists). Focus first on the needs of others, then on the wants, and finally, remember to cultivate experiences over things.

Checking off a purchase from a list is the laziest way to express gratitude for someone. Opening my wallet for others is a good thing, but it should not be the only thing I do to demonstrate affection. 

How I take this to heart remains, but I hope that I take more trips and place more of my time and money in the service of friends instead of for myself alone. One concrete hope I have for any extra resources we might have in the remainder of this year and as a principle of the next: that my mind and heart would focus on friendships that deserve time or money in the form of a dudes night or weekend about town. Money is useful for enriching experiences with friends and loved ones, but it is not necessary.

The quote is from an opinion piece (source link below). It takes a biting, apocalyptic tone on consumerism, and it is a useful read for that reason.