Just as young adults feel the pressure to belong by behaving in a certain way that isn't true to their natural personalities so adults can feel unnecessary pressure to buy stuff to belong. I know in the past that I've bought clothes to belong just because they were the latest fashion and not because I actually liked the garment. I've chased status and a bigger mortgage debt to belong in the belief that these were part and parcel of being a successful adult.
If you're new to a minimalism there can be times when you feel socially awkward when those around you are talking about their recent purchases, holidays and lifestyles. You may feel like you don't belong and be tempted to withdraw from social gatherings altogether.
Whoa! Living with less needn't cramp your style.
It can be easy to think that you need to buy things to belong. But surely as human beings we all belong.
The Dalai Lama at Glastonbury Festival this weekend said that we're social beings. He demonstrated genuine social connection by appreciating the warm welcome and vitality of the festival goers and performers around him.
This spirit of gratitude, generosity and acceptance is why he felt and looked so at home at Glastonbury. He was at peace with himself and with the complexity of the diverse situations of those around him.
The Dalai Lama was welcomed for his open-heartedness, compassion and smile. Not for his material possessions.
5 Ways to belong that don't cost money:
1. Be confident in yourself and be honest to others about your lifestyle choices. Be yourself and smile. Don't feel under pressure to conform, consume or compare yourself to others. Be a proud ambassador for being happy with less.
2. Be happy for other people if they're happy. Express genuine pleasure in their happiness (even if it comes from material possessions).
3. Say no sometimes. If your friends are always planning expensive get togethers don't feel like you have to join in every time. Be the one to suggest cheaper alternatives for meeting up.
4. Steer the conversation away from consumerism if you can.
5. Don't judge people on first appearances. Find common ground. OK, you may live totally different lifestyles but we're all human and you may find you have more in common with someone if you keep an open mind and let the conversation flow. Maybe you have people, places and interests in common.
Belonging isn't about us all being the same, having the same possessions or social status. We can connect on so many different levels.
Money, possessions and status can irritatingly get in the way of this.