I despise trends.  I can understand some technological trends or academic trends, that makes sense. But what about buying patterns? Are we so malleable that we’ve let ourselves become victim to basic advertising techniques? Will any shiny object grab our attention? We should be buying things because they fulfill a need, not because they fill a hole.

I do understand some of those needs are more vital than others. Like when we buy something in the checkout lane at the grocery. We all know exactly why those items were placed there. It’s the reason I struggle to hold my 4-year-old 40-pound son in my arms while I try to check out! In a sense, if it is in your view, it is in your thoughts.

The latest trends are placed continuously in our view and thus are in our thoughts.  Whether these thoughts are front and center or are operating in our subconscious mind, they are there none the less.  

If you have purchased a new car, then you have no questions experienced the phenomena of “trend degradation.”  It begins with manic happiness because of your new purchase. This joy can last for a varying amount of time dependent on the person.  Once the initial mania of your purchase wears off, and people stop congratulating you on it, reality begins to set in. The truth is that no one cares about your new car, no matter what it is.  People treated you differently because of your new vehicle. Indeed, they did but for what, a week or so, and then the attention wore off. Eventually, even you began to feel less enthused about your purchase. Most likely you stretched to afford it, and only in hindsight are you able to see the opportunity cost of the extra money that you send out each month. That’s when the unthinkable happens.

When you show up to work the next day your coworker who was so complimentary about your new car has a surprise.  They just purchased the same car as you, because they liked yours so much. They tell you how they eyed your car every day in the parking lot, and just fell in love. They even got the same color that you did! But there is only one difference between their new shiny automobile. They purchased the latest model. That’s right! They just did a complete redesign,(aka shifting the trend) and the results are stunning.  Especially compared to your dusty old last years model that you still have 5 years to pay on, and are underwater because you had to have it. At this moment, you’ll muster up a half-cocked smile, trying as hard as humanly possible to show that you are happy for them.  Desperately trying to convey that you don’t feel like a complete and total sucker. Now there is only one thing left to do. Remain perpetually out of breath running directly behind the next trend.

This is the trend.  A trend of disappointment, and it’s not just high-cost items like cars either. Its food, its clothes, its even education. I know you have heard a wise elder say, “some things never change.” And they don’t have to change so much if we don’t want them to. We must be able to see clearly what is real organic change, and what are trends — because trends are unnatural, formulated. Change on the other hand is natural, and it can not be halted. But change can be anticipated, and, it can be ridden like a wave.  When we follow trends, there is no way for us to forecast what the next one will be. This leaves us feeling left out when others begin engaging in the newest trends, and we are still trying to catch up.  Unfortunately, that’s right where we are supposed to be.

Purchasing less is a great place to start, but we are going to have to examine why we buy?  If we want to live modestly, we have to purchase items that are above trends. Often its unnecessary trends that cue us its time to throw out the “old” and buy something new.  A Minimalist can’t operate this way.

We buy items that are of high quality, and that will serve their purpose even after maximum wear and tear. If you have less, you are going to use it more.  If you don’t rake the leaves often, fine buy a cheap poorly constructed rake. Not my recommendation, but hey. If you do a lot of raking, however, you want to buy a tool that is durable enough for you to rely on it.  

Living modestly or being a minimalist is no different.  I need to be able to depend on the things I use often. The items a minimalist uses go through more wear and tear because we tend to have less “backups” than the average “devourer.”  

To live modestly, forget about trends entirely.  Learn to recognize the difference between trends and real organic change.  Empower yourself when making purchases by knowing why you are buying. Purge more, buy less, buy for quality, and leave the trends for the trendy.  

Ask yourself?

Do I really need it?

How much am I going to use it?

Does it complicate or simplify my life?

Is the the simplest solution for the problem?

Am I making this purchase for me, or for others?


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