As a society we own more stuff than at any point in the history of the earth. Yet, we have less and less time to use and enjoy what we own.
Why have we accumulated so much stuff, and how come we don’t use it?
Well, I think most of us are thoroughly conditioned to always want more. That’s capitalism for you. We’ve got to keep consuming to increase economic growth (even at the expense of our planet). Commercials constantly remind us of what we are supposedly missing. Don’t tell me you’re immune to it.
THE SOCIETY OF GEARHEADS
Some voice over colleagues (and you know who you are) are constantly looking for the next best thing, whether it’s a magical microphone, the perfect preamp, or some fantastic new soundproofing material that’s guaranteed to create the quietude you were always craving. And you know what?
There will always be a next best thing!
As professionals we want to deliver the best product or service possible, and for that you need quality tools. But at some point, spending hundreds if not thousands of dollars more will only give you a small increase in sound quality. An increase most clients won’t be able to hear anyway.
And let’s face it: voice overs aren’t recording a symphony orchestra. We are the masters of mono. We don’t need special microphones for each instrument, or hard to learn multitrack recording software. So, why overcomplicate things and buy more than you need? Who are you trying to impress?
Psychologists agree that buying stuff is feeding a need. It’s called retail therapy for a reason. To fill the emptiness inside, we keep on buying things to make us feel better. It’s a quick fix and the rush never lasts. We end up owning things we hardly use that eventually will become part of some ginormous landfill. Predatory credit card companies love it!
One of the problems is that we have made the pursuit of material wealth a symbol of how well we are doing. But how happy do objects really make us, especially if we have no time to enjoy them?
Especially around the holidays I see posts from colleagues telling the world how hard they are working to finish this project or to help that client. What’s the point? Are you hoping to get a medal for being an absent parent or partner who is slaving away in a dark studio to meet some ridiculous deadline?
If you derive most of your self-worth from your work, I get why you are doing this, but to me, work is only a means to an end. It’s something I do to help me achieve a greater goal.
The income I generate from my job allows me to live my life on my terms surrounded and supported by the people I love. Money gives me the freedom to be the person I want to be, and to live life to the fullest.
To me, living life to the fullest does not mean: collecting more and more things that end up gathering dust, or to be away from the people I love while sacrificing my health.
I did that once, and I ended up having a massive stroke. Talk about a wake-up call…
A RICH LIFE
Here’s a question for you: How would you define having “a rich life”?
I remember a boy in my class I looked up to because he was very well off. He lived in the biggest mansion in town and his dad collected cars as a hobby. One day I came over to play and a snotty servant opened the door.
This rich boy had tons of toys, but he was the loneliest child I had ever met. His parents were never home, always traveling the world to strike new business deals and increase their wealth. When they did come home, they brought expensive gifts for their son who told me:
“I don’t need more stupid toys. All I want is to spend time with my mom and dad. They don’t even know who I am, and they complain all the time!”
The thing is, you can always buy more things, but you cannot buy more time. You can only MAKE more time… until your time runs out.
Tragically, most people in western society tend to spend more on possessions than on experiences and relationships. The latter take time to cultivate, but tend to last a lot longer.
Recently, I moved to a different state. I blogged about it in the past two posts. Before we packed our life into moving boxes, I finally realized how much stuff we owned and did not need. It was almost perverse. Giving it away was liberating in many ways. Now that we’re in a new place, we are committed to living a more simple, minimalist lifestyle.
OWNING LESS, DOING MORE
I know minimalism is a trendy term, and it means different things to different people. Someone once said:
“Minimalism is the intentional promotion of the things that bring you joy and the removal of those that do not.”
To us, it essentially means to focus on what really matters in our life. It’s a conscious choice to live with less.
It means eliminating what doesn’t make us happy. This isn’t limited to objects. It can also refer to letting go of certain people and bad habits.
Minimalism is also finding joy in doing less and having more free time. This involves simplifying our schedule. My wife and I won’t take on obligations we don’t want to take on.
The two of us have always been avid volunteers. It was both rewarding and draining. We still want to help others, but not to our detriment. We have to help ourselves first before we can be there for others, and this implies a stronger focus on our health and well-being.
CUT THE CLUTTER
One way to free up time is to declutter. Less clutter is less time finding and organizing things. In the end it increases productivity and reduces stress.
Being critical of our purchases frees up money in our bank account. Minimalism means getting as much joy from saving as from spending.
When it comes to buying new things, we ask ourselves four questions:
“Do we absolutely love it, do we really need it, how long will this last, and how does this impact the planet?”
We don’t have the time or the expertise to research all products to see if they’re sustainable, but there’s a website with a carefully curated selection of things that are made to last. It’s called buymeonce.com. Initially, the products are more expensive to buy, but because they last longer, they end up being cheaper over time (and much better for the environment).
Minimalism is a continual practice. It involves learning new habits that lead to gradual and lasting change. Here are some of our choices:
Quality over quantity.
Experience over possessions.
Gratitude over never having enough.
Purging people as well as objects.
Adding value by letting go.
Enjoying the moment.
Choosing health, joy, and peace.
We strongly believe that living this way is not only good for you, but it is necessary for the preservation of our precious planet!
Care to join me?
Paul Strikwerda ©nethervoice