Words by: NZ Warriors halfback Chanel Harris-Tavita.

A year ago, I discovered a documentary on Netflix that changed my life. Before this discovery, I was a compulsive shopper. I would often see advertisements for things that I didn’t need, but I still found a way to justify buying that thing.

If only I had that new car or that new pair of shoes, my life would be complete.

The film’s title is Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things. And it really struck a chord with me. It made me think about the kind of person I am and, more importantly, the kind of person I want to be.

Do I want to be a puppet, pulled by the strings of society and advertisements? Or, do I want to be in control, and be aware of the consumerism trap many of us fall into?

My life had always been about wanting more, and I’d never considered living with less. I dealt with stress by buying things that I thought would make me happy, but it never worked. I was always left feeling discontented. After learning about minimalism, I felt a sudden desire to start living a simpler life, with less stress and more freedom.

Initially, I thought that minimalism meant getting rid of nearly everything you own and living with next to nothing. As the film went on, I realised that minimalism isn’t about living with nothing—it’s about living more intentionally.

“Minimalism is a tool used to get rid of the excess, so you can focus on what’s truly important.” The Minimalists

What Is The Documentary All About?

The documentary is about two Americans—Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus—who simplified their lives by becoming minimalists.

Before Josh and Ryan discovered minimalism, they were unhappy working in the corporate world. Despite having everything they wanted—large apartments, expensive cars, and six-figure incomes—they both felt miserable and empty. Instead of asking themselves why they were discontented, they continued to fill the void the way most of us do: by buying stuff.

It wasn’t until Josh and Ryan discovered minimalism that they knew something had to change, and so they simplified their lives. They both left their stressful corporate jobs and got rid of items that either didn’t serve a purpose or didn’t bring them joy. By reducing the excess, they made room for more: more meaningful connections, personal growth, and financial freedom.

After experiencing the unforeseen benefits of living with less, Josh and Ryan decided to write a book about minimalism, sharing their journey towards a more meaningful life.

Ultimately, minimalism put things into perspective and made them realise that the most important things in life, aren’t things.

Less Is More

Throughout my adolescent years, I was very insecure. Instead of digging deeper to find the root of my insecurities, I did what most of us do when we feel discontented: I bought stuff, shoes in particular. Shoes to me were like makeup to the Kardashians. As I started earning more income, I started collecting them, and by age 20, my collection was worth around $7,000.

The heels on the shelf aren’t mine. My girlfriend wanted them to be part of the collection!

At the time, it didn’t seem like a big deal to own that many shoes. It didn’t occur to me that my interest in shoes had turned into an unhealthy obsession.

I have every shoe I’ve ever wanted, so why do I still feel discontented? Why do I continue to want more?

It wasn’t until I discovered this documentary that I realised I had fallen into the consumerism trap, and so I decided to take action.

Action

In the past year, I’ve sold and donated all of my collection except for two pairs: a pair of runners and a pair of casuals. Both pairs serve a purpose, and I enjoy wearing them. It makes life easier, knowing that I only have two pairs to pick from before leaving the house.

The minimalism documentary showed me how to appreciate more by owning less. I don’t need fifteen pairs of shoes to express my personality. I am what I do; not what I own. Now, I only purchase things if they are going to add value, not clutter. Living more intentionally has saved me time and money—two resources that are best invested elsewhere.

Here are some tips for avoiding impulse buys:

  • Avoid discounts – you can’t save money by spending it, and it’s 100% off if you don’t buy it in the first place.
  • The 30/30 and 90/90 rule – if something costs more than $30, wait 30 hours before purchasing it. If it costs more than $90, wait 90 hours.
  • Unsubscribe – stop subscribing to online stores, and you won’t be tempted by special offers.
  • Afterpay – if you have to use Afterpay to buy something, then you probably can’t afford it.

    I encourage you to watch this documentary. It certainly changed my perspective on things and made me realise that there’s more to life than fancy clothes, expensive cars, and $1,300 shoes.

    First, we must make ourselves—and others—aware of the consumerism trap. Then, we should declutter the excess in our lives, so that we can focus on what’s truly important.

    The minimalism documentary ends with this message:

    “Love people, use things. The opposite never works.”

    The Minimalists