The days between Christmas and New Year’s Eve seem to pass in a haze, except for Boxing Day. In Great Britain and some Commonwealth countries, December 26th is the equivalent of Black Friday in the U.S. Most big box stores, specialty stores, and small boutiques offer products at discounted prices for up to a week–sometimes longer–and consumers fill stores and fall in line. 

Boxing Day: Origins vs. 21st Century

But the origins of Boxing Day are much humbler. Though there is some debate about the origins of the holiday’s name, it is generally accepted that Boxing Day started as a day of giving. More specifically, it was a day when employers or local parishes gave gifts to servants, laborers, tradespeople, and the poor. 

In the 21st century, this tradition has largely been swallowed by consumerism. The spirit of giving that prevails during the holiday season seems to abruptly come to an end–or at least take a one-day hiatus–on Boxing Day, as many people shop for themselves instead of others. 

Year after year, many of us are enticed by the newest, biggest, and fastest gadgets and toys, but we refuse to let go of previous models. While there is nothing wrong with saving money on things you need, shopping on Boxing Day can end in excess that clutters your physical and mental space and, ultimately, kills productivity, creativity, and energy.

Intentional Purchasing

So, how do you prevent it? Be intentional. Ask yourself why you want to buy this item, and be honest. Here are some questions you may want to ask yourself:

  • Why do I want to buy this?
  • Do I like this item?
  • Do I really need it? 
  • What makes it better than what I have now? 
  • Will it help me achieve something that is unachievable right now? 
  • What will happen to my older version of this item?

If you can’t make a solid argument for purchasing it, put it back on the shelf and walk away.

With practice, this will become second nature. You will find that you buy less and use the things that you do buy more often.

Editing Your Possessions

When you are almost always intentional with your purchases, you can tackle the things you already own. A drawer, a closet, a room, or the untouched boxes in the basement are all great places to begin as long as it seems manageable to you. Consider each item carefully and ask yourself some of the following questions:

  • What is the purpose of the item?
  • Why did I buy it?
  • Do I like this item?
  • Does it align with my values?
  • Do I use it regularly? 
  • Am I afraid I’ll offend someone if I donate or sell it? 
  • Could someone else make better use of this?
  • Is it a status symbol or a way to fit in with my peers? 
  • Did I buy it on an impulse or spend more than I would have liked, and now I feel guilty for not using it?

This is not to say that you should get rid of everything that isn’t utilitarian. There is certainly a place for art, beauty, and things that hold sentimental value. But, these things should be kept intentionally and should align with your personal values.

By being intentional about what you buy and editing the things you already have, you will be letting go of things that no longer serve you–meaning things that don’t represent your values or help move you in the direction of the person you want to become. 

Just as the holiday season comes and goes, the things that help us move forward change as we grow. That’s why it’s important to assess the things we keep around and ensure that each one serves us now and will help us become the person we strive to be.

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