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Tidying up, decluttering, and making peace with our possessions in the Marie Kondo method has captivated many people. We are now ruthlessly cleaning out closets, and pondering the material gluttony that got us into our mess of things. Retail therapy and the thrill-seeking of putting just one more object into our baskets can have unintended consequences.

Can the Zen of minimalism coexist with an overpowering need to consume? If we combined our wants and our needs into a super shopping spree, then perhaps we could recast the purchase of necessities as an excursion.

One big box store that I frequent is to me more like a supermarket wonderland, than what I’d think of as a traditional grocery store. Aisle after aisle of neatly sorted goods, all manner of shapes, sizes, and types reside under one roof. I bring a list so that I stay on task, and I check off items as I toss them into my cart. I can experience joy and get exactly what I need at the same time.

Just looking at the panoply of items is a feast for the eyes. Saving money, seeing a glorious display of wares, and exercising (yes, this store is huge) are all positive byproducts. I follow-up this visual smorgasbord with lunch at a restaurant/store, one chock full of knick-knacks and kitchen chachkies. Sometimes I purchase a small toy for my pets, or an inexpensive, decorative item for my home.

If we get creative getting more doesn’t have to result in more stuff. If you for example purchase flowers/plants on a whim (then either forget about them, or create house clutter), could you satisfy your need differently by visiting a park, a botanical garden, or a well-stocked outdoor garden store? Window shopping doesn’t cost a thing, but it does provide a respite for the eyes, and a diversion for the mind. Instead of an impulse purchase, could you instead look at pictures in a glossy magazine, visit a home show, browse through a bookstore, or spend an hour ogling beautiful web pictures? Alternatives may leave you feeling just as satisfied.

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All viewpoints expressed by Jackie Gilbert are her own, and not of her employer.

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