Did you know that happiness can be marketed? It’s true – “Buy X and you’ll be happy” “Learn do to Y and you’ll be happy” (https://markmanson.net/stop-trying-to-be-happy)
But the old saying is true – you can’t buy happiness. Isn’t it funny how we tell ourselves that over and over but that doesn’t stop us from trying to buy happiness? Want a really good example of that? Go look at your closet.
Just look at all that potential happiness hanging there and piled on the floor.
Hey, I’m guilty of it too. Like I stated when I started this blog, I shop when I’m upset, angry, stressed, etc. I purchase a new top to make myself feel better, to make myself…happy.
Perhaps happiness is like Christmas and the Grinch was right when he said, “Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store.”
I know it seems really easy for me to tell you to not buy clothes to find happiness. You’re probably thinking, “Ok, so I stop buying clothes. Where do I find happiness then?”
That’s the million dollar question right there.
I’ve been listening to a really good podcast by The Minimalists and they said something this week that dealt with that very question.
“Don’t base your life on the average person, because the average person is not happy. And just because most people are unhappy doesn’t mean you have to be unhappy too. You needn’t settle for a mediocre life just because the people around you did. Of course happiness is not the point – a meaningful life is.
So maybe you should stop looking for happiness and start looking for meaning.”
I don’t know about you but I like the thought that happiness can’t be “found”, that it’s something you just “are” when you find meaning in your life.
Think of it like this – an angry man doesn’t wonder if he’s angry and a confident man doesn’t wonder if he’s confident. They just are those things. A happy person is the same way. If you’re a happy person, then you just…are.
Ok, we don’t look for happiness we look for meaning. Check. Got it. Hmmm….meaning??? How do you find that?
I’m not an expert on finding the meaning of life (no surprise there). But I am pretty good at keeping things simple, and in my own opinion I think you find your “meaning” by first identifying the things in your life that bring no meaning to it.
We’re all so busy and our days are packed with work, appointments, commitments, tv, shopping, etc. How nice would it be if we started cutting out the things that bring no meaning to our lives? We’d have more time to spend on the MEANINGFUL things.
So what un-meaningful things fill your day…and your closet?
That’s what I’ve been trying to do these last few months, identifying the meaningful and sorting out the un-meaningful. It’s why I stopped buying clothes and started this blog. I looked around my life and realized that my closet brought no meaning to my life.
Is re-wearing all my clothes for a year the meaning to my life and the key to my happiness?
Of course not.
But it’s a step in the right direction and I’m defiantly happier moving forward then I ever was standing still.
Picture this scene – you’re looking pretty amazing in a WAY cute outfit, getting compliments left and right as you walk the halls of work, feeling like a million bucks because you LOOK like a million bucks. You sit down to lunch, still riding your “cute outfit high” and go to take a bite of that equally good looking pasta salad when – BAM - the pasta falls in slow motion and bounces off your chest and lap.
What was your reaction right then? Did you cringe in pain because you can relate or did you shake your head in agreement and think, “Been there, totally sucks!”?
I know that this has happened to all of us. When it happened to me I was wearing a new top for the first time! I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I was physically upset. I grieved the loss of that top because it had such VALUE to me.
But WHY did it have value?
Value is a tricky word/idea. Sometimes it’s easy to find the value of something because we know what others might pay for an item, but other times the value of something is only seen by us. Want an example?
Look at your fridge. Is it covered in hand drawn works of art by your kids? Are they valuable to you? Would anyone else pay you for them? See…value is tricky and subjective.
Value has been on my mind a lot lately when I think about our closets and clothing. At one point every item in there had real value because we paid money for them. Flash forward a month or a year and we are GIVING them away. Why? Because they have lost all value to us.
Wouldn’t it be a wonderful thing if we could start to see the true value of a thing before we ever purchased it? What are you paying for anyways? A brand? A logo? A material? A feeling?
There’s this amazing cashmere sweater from J Crew that I’ve wanted for years. I first saw it in the store about 3 years ago but it was priced at around $200. Yeah, no way I’m spending that! So I watched and I watched hoping it would finally go on sale. But it never did! And when it was no longer in the store I started searching eBay for it.
Even on eBay that sweater was going for over $100! Dang!
So years go by and then suddenly one day I decide to search for that sweater again. And there it was on eBay priced at $25. I was SO excited and happy! I was finally going to purchase the sweater that would define me as a person!
And I bought it. I wore it. I liked it. I put it in a drawer and it became just another sweater in my drawers. You know where that sweater is today? In a bag going to Goodwill.
It has lost all value to me.
I say all this so that hopefully one of you will walk to your closet and see the TRUE value of it. If all your clothes burned tomorrow would it be the end of the world? Aren’t they all replaceable anyways?
I want to finish with something I heard from The Minimalist podcast in January on clothing. Joshua Fields Millburn tells a story of someone asking him the question, “As a minimalist, what is your favorite shirt, pants, and shoes?” Joshua was traveling on a book tour and had his suit case with him. He pulls out a shirt, a pair of jeans, and a pair of shoes and says, “These are I guess.”
Joshua said he had never thought of them as his favorites but he did realize that he wore them over and over and felt good in them. But by the end of the interview Joshua gave all three pieces of clothing away. Why?
Because when you give away your favorite thing, something else will step up to become your new favorite.
That story made me think of the constant cycle of “favorites” in my closet and that the term “favorite top” was a temporary status. So instead of giving away an item when it has lost all value to me, maybe I should give it away while it’s still my favorite. Wouldn’t the value of it be greater so the act of giving it away hold more…value?
I know this post a bit longer than normal and I should be ending now, but I really wanted to share something personal with my regular readers (all 30 of you). J
I’ve recently been dealing with a scary health issue, the scariest for most women actually. The fear of breast cancer. Two masses were found in my right breast and I required two biopsies. The test results were good and bad. The good news is that no invasive cancer cells were found but some questionable precancerous cells were.
So I’ll be having surgery soon to remove the area and have more testing done. I’m not overly worried because everything has been caught very early and I know I’ll be fine. My doctor is being very cautious because of my family history of breast cancer. My mom (a regular reader – love you mom!), my aunt (who passed away two years ago), and my great grandmother (who passed away in her early 30’s).
Going through this right now is probably why the idea of value is on my mind so heavily. Isn’t it funny how quickly value can shift from one thing to another once our own perspective changes? Maybe that means true value is like beauty “in the eye of the beholder”.
What is valuable to you? Go to your closet and find something valuable. Is owning it adding value to your life? Would giving it away add even more?
I told you value was a tricky thing.
I knew it was bound to happen eventually. I would be faced with a shopping trip or a Girl’s Day Out and I would have to go and “test my metal”.
Well guess what – the day came and went and I passed that test with flying colors!
Here’s the backstory: I went down to Nashville to spend the weekend with my best friend, Amy. Anyone who knows Amy knows that if shopping were an Olympic event she’d be on the metal podium every week. Not that Amy spends thousands of dollars on clothes, she’s just a really savvy shopper and doesn’t mind going to 17 stores to find the perfect pair of brown ankle boots.
This was my first trip to visit her since beginning this year long challenge and I didn’t want to skip the shopping part of our typical weekend. Amy really does know the best stores in the trendiest parts of any city.
So we headed to the trendy neighborhood of Franklin for a day of shopping and talking.
And y’all would have been so proud of me! I went into cute store after cute store and didn’t even LOOK at the clothing! I’m not saying it wasn’t a challenge, but I did it!
By the end of the day I had bought a coffee cup for my sister and some spices for myself. That’s it! I can’t begin to even describe how pleased I was with myself and how good it felt to not have “shopper’s guilt”.
As an added bonus Amy gave me a couple of her scarves she’s no longer wearing. Score! She asked me, “Am I allowed to still give you clothes?” I reminded her that the blog was called My Year of Hand Me Downs, so used clothing was perfectly ok (and appreciated).
When I got home I paired that light brown scarf with a grey dressier sweatshirt and it looked adorable!
So far this year I’ve added 3 scarves and a blouse to my wardrobe and I haven’t spent one penny! I love that I don’t feel guilty or wasteful about my closet anymore. Now when I go to my closet I feel creative and challenged to put together a new look out of what I already own.
So this week I thought it would be fun to challenge everyone to do their own “clothing swap”. Exchange a couple of pieces with a sister or a friend. I do that with my twin sister all the time and it’s a win-win for both of us!
And as always, I’d LOVE to see some of those outfits you’re putting together! Please post a comment and let me know what you swapped and how you used your “new to you” item.
My name is Misty Day (yeah, that really is my name) and I'm a normal every day person. I'm a twin, I work as an analyst, I take my daughter to Girl Scouts and swim team, I play bass guitar in a band, I love food and wine, I like new clothes, and I'm trying to be a better person.