How I Stopped Shopping, Gave Away My Belongings, and Discovered Life Is Worth More Than Anything You Can Buy in a Store – Cait Flanders

I happen to stumble upon the Google Talk by Cait Flanders where she shared her one year journey of no spending and that intrigued me so I decided to read her book “The Year of Less”.

Cait Flanders narrated how she was in debt and in the midst of the vicious cycle of consumerism and how she reached the decision to try one year of No Spend Challenge.

The book consists of following valuable lessons she learnt during her journey:

  • One lesson I’ve learned countless times over the years is that whenever you let go of something negative in your life, you make room for something positive.
  • Brené Brown says the difference is that guilt equals I did something bad, and shame equals I am bad.
  • There were always going to be outside influences at play. But I could change my reactions to them—and that change had to start within.
  • But there were really only two categories I could see: the stuff I used, and the stuff I wanted the ideal version of myself to use.
  • Encouraging me to live one day at a time and enjoy one moment at a time.
  • There is something to be said about being totally self-aware and still choosing to do what you know is bad for you. On the one hand, I could argue that I was perhaps weak or still had yet to be cured of feeling like I could get through tough situations without the help of a substance. But on the other hand, this was the first time I had been aware of what I was doing while I was doing it.
  • It never occurred to me to wait until I actually needed something.
  • The truth, I was learning, was that we couldn’t actually discover what we needed until we lived without it.
  • But the ban proved another theory:
    When you want less, you consume less—and you also need less money.
  • Up to this point, some of the things I learned to love most about myself had only become evident when I was changing my life. Digging myself out of debt showed me how much determination I had. Living on a tight budget proved I could be more resourceful.
  • Taking control of my health confirmed I was, in fact, in control of my body and my mind-set. Not drinking alcohol continued to teach me I didn’t need to be under any influence to have—or be—fun. And giving up shopping for a year demonstrated I had more willpower than I thought, and I was happier when my attention wasn’t focused on what I could acquire.
  • Remember that all you’re committing to is slowing down and asking yourself what you really want, rather than acting on impulse. That’s it. That’s what being a “mindful” consumer is all about.

The gist of the book can be summarized in the following paragraph:

One of the greatest lessons I learned during these years is that whenever you’re thinking of binging, it’s usually because some part of you or your life feels like it’s lacking—and nothing you drink, eat, or buy can fix it. I know, because I’ve tried it all and none of it worked. Instead, you have to simplify, strip things away, and figure out what’s really going on. Falling into the cycle of wanting more, consuming more, and needing even more won’t help. More was never the answer. The answer, it turned out, was always less.

This book really makes you mindful about your consumption and makes you evaluate your choices and forces us to look inside yourself. I really enjoyed reading her book. In case you want to save time watch this video.