If you find the gift giving scenario – be it for birthdays, anniversaries or holidays like Christmas – stress your pocket and emotions, it could be time to try a different approach.
Birthdays, anniversaries, holidays – they all add up to a whole lot of stuff and (frequently) money that isn’t there. Most adults have spent more money every year than the previous years, many also, unfortunately, are now paying off debt taken on to buy expensive gifts and host the perfect party. This coming holiday season could be different, however, could be different, especially if you start now to redefine your approach to gift-giving celebrations to one that’s more minimalist but also more meaningful. You might even have family and friends on board with the idea.
What is Minimalism?
Broadly speaking, minimalism describes removing from your life that which no longer serves you or brings you joy. It means limiting unnecessary spending and living with intention. It also creates physical and emotional space to make room for people, material goods, and thoughts that matter the most. Deep down we all know that people and relationships are infinitely more important than stuff.
For some, material belongings are a representation of self-worth and buying gifts for others – even budget-busting presents – can amplify that perception. Bubbling beneath the surface are often feelings of stress, anxiety and guilt that come with overspending and overcompensating, particularly around gift-giving occasions like birthdays or anniversaries. Taking a closer look at how you spend time and money can impact wellbeing.
Studies in recent years have illustrated a link between financial insecurity and poor mental wellbeing. Assessing your budget with a minimalist mindset can also lessen the burden on your wallet where presents are concerned and help to alleviate the anxieties and fear associated with organizing events and buying gifts.
How can minimalism remove the often self-imposed obligation to spend and also help everyone to celebrate more joyously? By giving ourselves permission to really prioritize what really matters to us. We can have the opportunity to engage in holidays in a way that resonates with our hearts instead of getting caught up in how we think we are supposed to experience a holiday or event.
Where to Begin
Preparation is key when approaching a celebration as a first-time minimalist because it will help your guests to understand your goals. The best way to introduce the idea is to start talking about what it means to you as an individual. This may be financial freedom, reducing anxiety or increasing self-esteem as a result of cutting spending.
Gently mention your thoughts of a no-present policy to family and friends before a party or gathering. Explain how removing this material obligation could encourage a deeper connection between guests and relieve the anxiety that can come with choosing and buying presents. If a guest does bring a gift, receive it with gratitude. For some, gifting is an opportunity to express their care for the recipient. They enjoy knowing that the recipient hears about their message of love loud and clear.
Bringing a gift to a party is part of the celebration ritual for many. In this case, free, but thoughtful, alternatives can bring immense joy to all. Swapping presents with simple notes of gratitude provide a powerful, loving and expense – free alternative. Practicing gratitude is associated with a spectrum of psychological benefits including increased self-esteem and happiness. It also reduces feelings of resentment, guilt and envy, which can help to chance emotional wellbeing. Letters of gratitude have been known to significantly raise mental health. These letters can be short and include two to three things for which are grateful – perhaps a person has helped you with a project, provided childcare or made you laugh when you were down.
Encourage your guests to get creative too. Host a holiday party where the challenge is to make all of the gifts from objects that would otherwise be thrown away. Nothing new is being purchased (except for a few supplies) and the gifts are one-of-a-kind items. You can also have a cookie or baked goods exchange.
Guests could also be encouraged to bring home- cooked food in a pot-luck- style celebration, with starters, desserts or snacks allocated to different family members and friends.This reduces the pressure on the host, nurtures a feeling of everyone helping out and, on the day of the birthday or anniversary, equals less time in the kitchen and more laughs with loved ones.
Minimalism gives you the power to say no to social situations that are beyond your budget, such as eating out at an expensive restaurant. When we realize that when everything matters, nothing matters, it’s easier to say no to things and create time and space for a more meaningful holiday season. You may worry it may affect relationship; it’s sometimes the gateway to conflict; and it might exacerbate feelings of guilt. But while it can feel uncomfortable at first, you may be surprised at the understanding, support and respect elicited by your decisions.
To avoid feeling like you’re missing out, remind yourself of what is most important. Look forward to creating special moments with loved ones. Put your energy towards that, and it will be easier to say no to the other opportunities to celebrate the holidays. There are many ways to celebrate, but we can’t participate in them all. Nor should we try.
Against the Grain
Despite what advertisers would like consumers to believe, celebrations aren’t about spending money. Special occasions are for expressing gratitude and love and offer an opportunity to bring people together. They don’t have to be a gift-gifting parade where people end up in debt. By being more intentional about how we spend our resources (time, money, energy), we can steer away from stress and obligation into peace, ease and more comfort and joy.
Use minimalism as an opportunity to take control of your financial and emotional wellbeing. The opportunity to discover the true joy in honouring yourself and others will be magical, if you do.
Minimalism Without The Guilt
Use the core methods to overcome guilt by tapping into your rational thinking.
- Assess Your Values
If you feel guilty for letting others down-perhaps for saying no to invitations or not spending money on people or event, look introspectively at your personal values. For example, honestly, kindness, empathy or compassion can all comprise your core values system. This allows you to identify whether you should be feeling guilt or if it has manifested as a result of not aligning with another person’s values system.
Now check against your core values system when analyzing for how much guilt you are actually responsible. With guilt, it’s about making a rational assessment about how much responsibility you have for it. Do you feel guilty because of something you have done wrong? For harming another? Or do you feel guilty as a result of another person’s irrational reactionary behavioral response to a decision you made that was correct for you?
- Increase self-esteem
You’re less likely to feel guilt if your self-esteem is healthy. Higher self- esteem comes from doing things that make you personally feel good. Spend time with friends, take a walk in nature, volunteer your time to a good cause or simply take time to read a book.
Are you ready for a complete transformation? Check out our Change & Transformation Ebook!
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