“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives”
– Annie Dillard
“Nothing haunts me like the things I didn’t buy” – this phrase, often shared on social media by companies in the business of selling things, presumably to persuade customers to buy more and buy now, haunts me instead.
The funny thing is, I’m in the same business myself, having launched An Uplifted Day in 2016. An Uplifted day is an ecommerce retailer whose mission is to help women have a better day through enabling them to discover the best lifestyle and wellness products, delivered to their doorstep.
As counter-intuitive as this may sound, the fact that many of us unconsciously buy and consume our way through life (whether it’s a pair of cheap earrings at a fair which you just know, even before buying, that you’ll never wear, or mindlessly watching something on TV which you don’t enjoy just to pass the time) was the chief reason behind my decision to set up a business centered on curating and helping women discover the best products for a better day.
When done consciously, we can set ourselves up for a great day through deliberately choosing the things and objects we allow into our lives. I call this conscious consumption.
While many associate conscious consumption with the purchase of ethically and sustainably produced goods, I view it as something beyond the mode of production. Conscious consumption also encompasses your state of awareness at the point of consumption. It is the act of being aware of what we choose to buy and do, of deliberately choosing where to spend our money and energy. It is about pausing, before you put in your credit card details, and really deciding if what you’re about to purchase is something you need or want.
An impulse purchase of an ethically-produced handbag that will be immediately relegated to the back of your closet, for instance, is not consuming consciously (or sustainably), according to this broader definition.
However, the fact remains that we live in the modern world and must consume things if we are to actively participate in modern life. So what we can do is to choose to be aware of the things we buy and use, the objects we bring into our life, and as far as possible, make sure that they all, as Marie Kondo, decluttering extraordinaire says, “bring us joy”.
Why does conscious consumption matter?
The things we choose to do and interact with everyday will end up creating our whole lives. And the only way to intentionally create a life you truly desire is in aligning, as much as you can, what you do and by surrounding yourself daily with your life’s ultimate vision and purpose. For human beings prone to distraction and monkey-mind, this can only be done consciously.
As daily consumers, conscious consumption also serves as a starting point and tool for just being aware and taking control of our daily actions and thoughts. Practicing conscious consumption is a gateway to mindfully choosing and creating our lives, one which eventually extends into how we pursue our life’s purpose, who we surround ourselves with, who we want to be and how we might choose to serve the world.
Our days create our lives and consciously choosing to have, use and do the right things everyday frees you up to pursue or facilitate your deepest desires. It is a very good place to begin creating the best life you can for yourself.
Six Tips for Conscious Consumption:
- Set yourself up so that your everyday objects and necessities bring you joy to use and maybe even help to make your daily lives easier. Educate yourself on what products would suit your lifestyle. If you find yourself needing something, buy the best based on your budget. Do not settle. If it’s something you need or really want, it pays to spend more for quality. They last longer and work better.
- Do not buy anything on sale. If you can’t resist, at least ask if you would buy the sale item at full price. If the answer is no, then you don’t absolutely want or need it. Move on.
- Limit your exposure to the news. Even if you pride yourself on being an informed citizen, skim the headlines and be mindful of what you choose to read. Do you really need to know every gory detail or scathing critique? Spend that time pursuing something more uplifting instead.
- Make sure you’re actually enjoying what you watch on TV or are reading. If not, turn the TV off, give the book away, and go do something else that you actually like.
- Make sure your social media feeds bring you joy. Unfollow (you can unfollow someone on Facebook without unfriending them – they won’t ever know!) anyone whose posts do not make you feel good.
- Eat consciously. Be aware of what and how much you’re putting into your body. Stop when you’re full. It’s really ok not to finish everything on your plate. A good way to test if you’re truly hungry is to ask yourself if you’re hungry enough to eat some fruit right now. If you’re not, then try and resist the temptation to snack.
Here are some products and services which I have discovered that make a positive impact on my day and which I consciously choose to consume. Of course, you will find some of these on An Uplifted Day!
The Five Minute Journal: Worth every of the five minutes it takes to start and end your day.
Cocoloco Coconut Water: Not all natural coconut water is created equal and this the best tasting and freshest coconut water I’ve found in Singapore. Their home-delivery service makes it easy to order!
Yoga classes at The Yoga Shala: I’ve been practicing here for 7 years now and have yet to find a studio with more dedicated teachers and a great, down-to-earth community.
UberPool: I love that UberPool allows you to save money on rides while also saving the environment through carpooling.
Reminder Bands from the Mindful Company: A chic way to stay inspired and mindful of the thoughts we allow to dominate our minds.
Lisa Messenger’s Instagram Account: Australian author Lisa Messenger’s Instagram is full of inspiring messages. A breath of fresh air amidst a constant stream of selfies.
All images by stocksnap.io unless otherwise credited. For more information about Shan Shan and An Uplifted Day, read our interview with her here.