My conversion to minimalism wasn't a complete 180 change for me. I always liked cleaning and purging. I was never an impulsive shopper, or much of a shopper at all. In fact I have, for many years, been a total cheapskate. I'd rather save my money than spend it. A big part of that is my desire to become debt free, but it's also just the way I'm wired.
But even though I've spent most of my adult life spending responsibly, I haven't been immune to consumer culture.
I never noticed how badly I had wanted things until minimalism entered my life. It was subconscious, something that didn't even register until the day it stopped. I would walk into a store and mentally note all the things I would buy if only I could. A catalog for Sur La Tab would leave me unhinged with want. Even when the thought of purchasing an item was non-existent, I was filled with desire everywhere I went.
I didn't realize how deeply engrained consumerism had become within myself until one day it wasn't. I went into a department store and saw nothing I wanted. Nothing I lusted after. There were many lovely things, but nothing I saw would have added value to my life - not the deep sort of value I was now craving.
I left the store feeling free. In control. Happy.
I realized then how mentally exhausting it had been to spend all those years recklessly yearning for more than I had, more than I needed. Even when I outwardly expressed gratitude, just beneath the surface I held tight to the notion that there would always be things I could buy that would make me happier.
Of course there are still material items I would like (a non-warped spatula, or towels that don't have the faint smell of cat-piss for example), but I no longer have that manic desire for material goods. I feel like I have enough. I find myself constantly wanting less than what I currently have.
Having a minimalist mindset has freed me from the burden of excessive desire. That feeling of enough? It is true abundance, true freedom in a way I haven't known before. I'm finding that I was not only weighed down by the things I owned, but also by the things I didn't own that took up space in my mind. I've found that clearing that mental space is every bit as satisfying as cleaning out a closet full of clutter.
I feel confident now that I will always be a conscious consumer, aware of why I want the things I do, aware of exactly how much true value material items will add to my life. And that, my friends, is a priceless addition.