Years ago, when I was teaching in Dubai, a colleague of mine told me that she never went shopping alone and always preferred to shop with her older sister. She said, “When I am with my sister and I want to buy something, she asks me, “Do you really need this stuff?” and most of the time I refrain from buying it.”
I thought of how clever and down to earth her sister was. At the same time I felt jealous for two reasons; first I don’t have any sister and second, I was alone in Dubai and I didn’t have any female family member (or relative) with me to give me advice or support of any form. Hence I spent most of my free and lonely days wandering around in shopping malls buying things I liked even though I did not need them nor had any use for them. Until one day I realized that I had plenty of everything and I didn’t have enough space in my drawers and closets to store all my stuff. Disappointed and sad I started rearranging my room so as to fit my possessions. I spent hours, emptying, shifting, refilling drawer after drawer in my closet and dressing table but ended up with more items out than in. I felt miserable and I sat on my bed filled with my clothes and handbags and shoes and all and started thinking how I could solve the problem. I thought of getting a closet but I didn’t have space for any kind of new furniture in my room, so I had to do with whatever was available. I thought of my friend then shopping with her sister, and how she would never have this problem. And I vowed that I would not buy anything new unless I needed it.
Years have passed and my shopping habits have improved to some extent since then. Now whenever I feel down I ask myself, “What do I need?” And in my mind I list all the things that I have and all the people that are part of my life, my loved ones, my family, my friends and acquaintances that I am blessed with and I can think of nothing else that matters more.
Elie Weasel once wrote:
“Personal happiness cannot be solitary. It must involve someone else, be it a girlfriend or a boyfriend, a husband or a wife or a child, a teacher or a student, a friend or some other person. We best prepare by building our inner strength by sound philosophy, by reaching out to others, by asking ourselves: What matters most.”