It's 09:00am on a morning, and already I have been exposed to 24 different types of marketing encouraging me to consume more.
Ten emails filled with free next day deliveries and 10% off today only. Eight different social media sponsored posts with free trials, hot new trends and more. Two bus stop banners, one in store point of sale display and a mail-drop brochure through the door. Two magazine covers promising that if I wear 'x' I will get a promotion or feel more confident.
As I said before, it's also only 09:00am.
Which is why I am not surprised that more people are choosing to live a more minimal, meaningful life away from the distractions of consumerism and materialism.
On a daily basis we are shown images of a perfect life. A life with your dream home filled with expensive new furniture, a flash new car to highlight our social status, and designer clothes that make you look like the models and celebrities endorsing them.
The thing is, it's never enough and it's never achievable. When you get one new car, there's always someone with one better just around the corner. When you buy a new four-figure dress, it's not going to make you feel amazing if you lack the confidence and happiness in yourself to pull it off.
Trust me, I tried it.
I spent years of my life living the material ideal. Filling my home with more things than I could have ever needed, snapping up instant indulgent purchases for that quick instant endorphin rush that had died down the moment I got home. I felt successful if I got yet another pair of heels for a ridiculous sale price even though I didn't need them. I was living day to day always craving and wanting the next best thing.
But I wasn't happy.
I never took a moment to appreciate my current situation, because I was moving too quickly on to the next best thing.
Then I came across a blog post in 2015 about a 30 day minimalism challenge, where it promised to help you re-evaluate your own happiness and encouraged you to live more meaningfully, with purpose.
So I gave it a go.
Image: Author's Own
Over thirty days it encouraged me to clear out the clutter, become less attached to technology and social media (no more screens in bed), prioritise valuable relationships and say goodbye to anything that was eating away at my true happiness. One small step at a time.
It highlighted that I needed to be more mindful of what I consumed, but also how I spent my time. I went from being that person who was always 'busy', because that's yet another flawed measure of success in our society, to someone who banned that word from my vocabulary, and started to prioritise the things that mattered on a daily basis.
Minimalism has become incredibly popular as a concept over the last year, and to be honest, I am actually not surprised at all.
We are always told that the path to happiness is by achieving and getting more. Well what if it was actually the opposite?
How would your life improve with less stuff? Less time spent on cleaning, less furniture and clutter, less debt, less need, want, envy and busyness?
Years ago I embraced the 30 day challenge. Since then I have travelled more than ever, enjoyed and lived in the now, felt content with what I have, and felt empowered to do more with my own time. I am healthier, happier and I have a good strong value base. Instead of material goods, I have spent my money on memories. By actually prioritising my time, I have ironically done so much more.
And I am not alone. There's a reason you are seeing more and more articles about living minimally. It's because in an age of instant information, gratification, one-click next day orders and social media over sharing, people are looking for alternatives.
I don't live a minimalist life with just 40 items and a hard set of rules against ever using my debit card.
I life a minimal life where everything I now choose to do, buy or experience is based on one easy question. If I do this, will it add only value and happiness to my life?
If you are feeling too busy, stressed, overwhelmed or forever comparing yourself to others, perhaps trying a 30 day challenge is a small step towards finding your inner happiness and being content with the things that really matter.