|Lettuce and celery: cut off the bottoms, place in water until sprouted, then plant in soil. Not very edible, but pretty!|
Although I’ve never considered myself a shopping addict, I do enjoy purchasing new-to-me items. Shopping, especially thrift-shopping, has the thrill of the hunt, the excitement of finding a good bargain, and the inclusion of something new in your life. However, the fun is usually short-lived, and spending money, even a few dollars here and there, adds up over time. Our desire to fill our life with things can be an unhealthy addiction, one that masks insecurity, fear, boredom, or other emotional issues that we need to address.
That said, though, I think the human instinct for newness is perfectly natural; it’s just a matter of knowing how to channel that instinct in a productive way. So the next time you feel the impulse to go shopping, try one of these ideas instead!
Check out a new book/movie/CD/video game from the library. I get a thrill every time I find a good book at the library! I love being able to absorb new ideas and challenge my mind in new ways— but I can do that without actually owning the book. (See these other ideas for using the library to its fullest potential.)
Host a swap meet. Decide on an item, invite some friends, and swap what you own! Clothing swaps are common among my friends, but the possibilities for this are endless: household goods, tea, nail polish, plants or seeds, cookies, accessories, freezer meals, homemade cards, board games, books, etc. This is a great chance to give away stuff you don’t need as well, so ideally you end up with some new-to-you items and a lot fewer items in general. Everyone wins!
Decorate your home and yourself with what you already have. Most of us have more than enough decorations, accessories, furnishings, and clothes— it’s just a matter of being creative. Last week I was upset that we still had our TV sitting on two plastic bins since we haven’t been able to find a table the right size. So I grabbed our DVD/game bookshelf, flipped it on its side, and put the TV on top of it. This kind of repurposing works for all kinds of things: hang up necklaces and scarves as window treatments, put potted plants in chipped bowls and coffee mugs, toss some pine cones from the backyard into a glass bowl as a centerpiece, cover the ugly chair with a throw blanket, wear the skirt as a dress, hang all your rings on a necklace, and wear patterns and styles that aren’t “supposed” to go together, just to shake things up. The mantra I often repeat to myself is, “Everything you need, you already have.”
Learn a new skill. There’s no sense in buying things when what you really need is just a change of pace. The rule for this step is that you can’t spend any money on learning the skill! Again, the library is a great resource: ours lends out cake pans, telescopes, and yoga equipment, as well as language learning tapes and books on every hobby and skill you can imagine. Learning to make a soufflé, sketch a landscape, or build a garden bed out of scrap wood are great ways to bring something new and interesting into your life.
Walk somewhere. Sometimes, the restlessness for new stuff is just your body crying out for a change of scenery. So put on those shoes, walk out your door, and get lost! Pay attention to the details around you and try to find beauty in what you see. When you get home, hopefully you’ll be able to see what you already have in a new light— and that’s the most important step of all.