Finding Joy With What You Have
As I was reading a blog, this sentence stopped me right in my tracks. This hit hard and this hit deep. This is me. This is a lot of us.
How often is it that we find ourselves going to buy the next piece of clothing? Next phone? Next great meal out on the town? And, we do this for what? Long-term satisfaction? I don't think so.
We aren't really buying "stuff". We are trying to buy a story.
It's Okay to Take a Break from Shopping
Did you know that you don't always have to buy more things? Seems simple, but when you try to put that in action it might be a different story.
One of the main periods of time when I began to learn this simple truth was during the COVID-19 pandemic. The stores were closed, and I was wary of buying things online because I didn't know if COVID could live on packages or not yet. During that time, I wore the same v-neck in about 5 different color variations and that was it. This period of time taught me that it was okay not to have to shop all the time. (Sometimes you don't realize how much of a shopaholic you are until you can't be anymore.)
Why Does it Seem Like You Can't Stop Shopping?
Reason #1: A lot of the time, we get into a rhythm of constant shopping mayhem because we have self-acceptance issues. We don't think we are the person we should be. We feel unqualified or uncool because we don't have the things that others have. We chase after the next purchase and rack up more expenses in the hopes that it'll change us. (When in reality, it's not what you have that makes you who you are! You are more than what you wear or own. I feel like someone really needed to hear that today.)
Reason #2: Another reason why you can't seem to stop shopping is because of others. If the people you spend most of your time with are always wanting to go shopping with you or go out to eat, you may be more inclined to spend money. You may think it's a cheap purchase today, but over time, all those expenses add up!
Reason #3: You also can't stop shopping because you aren't supposed to stop shopping. Marketing has gotten smarter. Do you wonder why you keep getting ads on social media about something you were just thinking about buying? Do you wonder why TJ Maxx has the shelves of things to look at while you were in line? It's all because of marketing, and it's working, isn't it? You pick up a few more items in the checkout line that you don't need or you get a coupon sent to your inbox after you left your items in your cart online so you use it.
Slow Down: Shopping with Intentionality
So, you can't just never shop. You need groceries, clothing, or gifts for a family member's birthday. But the last thing you want is to go into a store and feel the instant regret after buying all the stuff you didn't intend to buy. What's the secret to quit spending money on thing you really don't need? You have to shop with intention.
How to Shop with Intention:
Go in with a list
Going in with a list is the #1 way for you to make sure you are only getting the things you are looking to get. Do you need a fall coat? Okay. Find the fall coat and only get the fall coat. Don't get 4 new coffee mugs, a rug, and a wreath too.
Understand the difference between wants and needs
Shoot. You would think that this tip would be a simple one, but honestly, this is still a hard one for me to even grasp sometimes! By being aware of the difference between wants and needs, you will be able to better understand what exactly you need on that shopping trip. (Don't get me wrong. It's okay to treat yourself every once in a while! I am all about treating yourself. But also don't forget about your financial goals and what you actually need the next time you run to the store.)
Ask yourself if you will actually use it
This is a big one. If you don't see yourself actually using something, why get it? I know for me, I sometimes see these beautiful heels online, but in all honesty, when is the next time that I will actually wear those? I hate wearing heels. They look cute, but those wouldn't be something that I'd actually get use out of.
Recognize the Things that You Have
When you see something on the shelf, it's hard to keep in mind what you already have at home. Growing up, our parents always preached to us the reasoning why we didn't need something. If you go into a Walmart as a kid, your parents may have said, "you already have a toy like that. You already have similar shoes. Do you really need that candy?"
As I was growing up, I loved the word "stuff". I loved stuff to the point that I used to through tantrums because I needed "stuff". (Yes. I was that type of kid.) But doesn't this scenario relate to a lot of us even to this day? We are on a focused journey to get "stuff" we don't need. And for what? To have approval from others? Have more?
By recognizing the things that you already have, it will make it that much easier to not have to always want more things.
Pure Joy Doesn't Come from Your Latest Purchase
If you haven't caught on to this yet, I will say it now. Joy and leading an intentional life doesn't come from shopping, purchasing, new things. It comes from within and your relationship with God.
"For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now, if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one's work will become clear." - 1 Corinthians 3:11-13
If your foundation is on the materials in this world, you will always wind up wanting more. That's why every time you go shopping you always have an urge to go back and get more the very next week (or the next day for some).
Your foundation must be in the Lord. Then, and only then, will you experience pure joy.