“Anything you cannot relinquish when it has outlived its usefulness possesses you, and in this materialistic age a great many of us are possessed by our possessions.” —Peace Pilgrim
Three years ago, we sold, donated, or discarded over 70% of our family’s possessions. We removed clothes, furniture, decorations, cookware, tools, books, toys, plus anything else we could find in our home that was not immediately useful or beautiful. The result has been a completely transformed life and lifestyle. It is a decision we have never regretted.
The intentional choice to pursue minimalist living and owning less has brought with it a great number of benefits. It has been the answer to much of the discontent we felt in our lives when we owned more. And the decision holds the potential to do the same for you.
Consider these Seven Common Problems that Can Be Solved by Owning Less Stuff:
1. “I don’t have enough money / I’m in debt.” The simplest solution to almost every money problem is “spend less.” In fact, it’s the first step in almost every financial program ever devised. Purposefully deciding to own fewer possessions is an important step in getting your financial house in order – and often times, it’s the only step you really need to take.
2. “There’s just not enough time in the day.” We were immediately surprised at how much extra time we found in our lives after removing our unnecessary possessions. We came to realize, if we aren’t careful, the things we own quickly move from “time-saving” to “time-consuming.” Just think about all the time we waste caring for our possessions: shopping, researching, organizing, picking up, cleaning, repairing, replacing – even earning the money to buy them in the first place. And the reality is, it can be difficult to determine how much time our possessions are actually stealing from us until we actually remove them.
3. “There’s always so much cleaning to do / Even after I clean, my house feels cluttered.” Want to have a cleaner home? Own less stuff. It works every time.
4. “My house is too small / There’s never enough storage around here.” Chances are pretty good that your house isn’t too small – you’ve just put too much stuff inside it. Case in point: according to statistics, the average house size in America has doubled since the 1950’s… yet, many of us still think that we need something bigger. You probably don’t. And removing the unneeded possessions from your home and life will likely provide the opportunity for you to discover that again.
5. “I’m too stressed.” The artist and philanthropist, John Ruskin once said, “”Every increased possession loads us with a new weariness.” Every increased possession weighs down our lives with new things to worry about, care for, and maintain. Our purchases have far surpassed bringing convenience and ease into our lives. In fact, they have begun to do just the opposite – they have brought new forms of stress and anxiety instead.
6. “I can’t decide what to wear / It’s so hard to keep up with the changing fashions.” On the surface, fashion appears to be an ever-evolving game where the rules change with each passing season. As a result, it demands astute attention (and an expansive income). But it does not have to. Instead, carry a beautiful wardrobe filled with a few timeless pieces that you truly love to wear. Once you love everything hanging in your closet, deciding what to wear will be one less problem to deal with in your morning.
7. “I wish I had…” Our culture begs us to own more. Advertisements call us to purchase the latest and the greatest. Our natural tendencies cause us to compare our lives with those around us. And we seem to have a built-in desire to impress others by owning as much as possible. As a result, we spend precious energy wishing we had more. But this constant dreaming, hoping, and envying other’s possessions is stealing from our joy and contentment today. It makes us feel like we are missing something – even though there is so much joy right in front of us.
We made the decision years ago to live with fewer possessions. Sometimes, I get asked, “Do you think you’ll always be a minimalist?” My response is always the same, “Oh yeah, I’m never going back. There is just too much joy and freedom on this side.”
And I cherish the opportunity to invite others to experience it as well.
So true. “A person’s life doesn’t consist in the abundance of things he possesses.” – Jesus
Yea Jesus was with the Essenes in the dessert. The were minimalists and vegetarians . Jeus realname was Joshua ben Panthera but all the Essenes were called Isa pronounced Eesa . THe Romans added the us -therefore Jesus.
Karen Comforti says
Oprah once had a show-I forget the overall topic, but she said that saving “the good dishes” or candles or anything else for a special occasion is silly. A person should enjoy “special” things on a daily basis. By the same token I extrapolate from this that if you are not using all your “stuff” on a regular basis, it is just taking up space-especially when there are others who may need your items.
Deb Lee says
All great points. One of the biggest rewards of having less is that you kick mental clutter to the curb. Less stress means more time for fun.
Next Starfish says
Deb – you’re dead right with this.
Not stressing about ‘stuff’ is very freeing – and by stuff I mean both physical things, and also unwanted, surplus emotional ties, commitments, relationships etc.
Erik Johnson says
I find no matter how much I am able to rid of, there is still more I could go without. It’s a process… it’s best to be actively reminding yourself to ask the question, “Am I going to get rid of this in 6 months?”
Thank you for that! I’m a terrible shopaholic, and I have clothes in a sell/donate pile that have been worn only a couple of times (and shamefully a couple that still have tags on!). This will be my new reminder that I need to curb my purchases to only those “love” items or they might just end up in the pile! What a waste of money.
#8. Relocation is much easier when you have less to move!! I’ve made 3 cross country moves carrying my belongs in my car. Of course, being single helps.
Wow.. your life sounds so interesting!
I am in the process of decluttering and it is work but it feels really good too.
After being forced to do with less, being laid off, I have begun to realize that my life was in the stuff. Now that I don’t have cable to watch, lots of videos and dvd’s or a music player, I am actually being more creative.
Just today I said to myself, I don’t know what to do with myself and then I thought about a creative endeavor I could partake in. I realized I can be emotionally tied to things because it helps us get rid of boredom but in the process makes us live less and enjoy the joy of simple things.
Simplicity in life and things has become my motto.
I really enjoyed your post! I think there are some great tips in it. I don’t think all of them are fitting for me (and we do have a happy life!) but some of them I would like to follow much better.
I do think it is interesting that our houses are twice as big as those in the 1950’s yet we think they are to small- what is really funny about that is that most families are around 1/2 the size of the 1950’s too.
Hubert Jäger says
Thank you for this great article. I can agree in every point ;-)
Noch Noch | be me. be natural. says
I think part of it is do we really need what we own? if so, then so be it. if not, do away with it
Who is there?
Bob Kline says
Thank you for bringing Peace Pilgrim to your readers’ attention. This incredible lady became an inspiration to countless individuals and her influence continues today through the work of Friends of Peace Pilgrim. I invite those interested to take a look at http://www.PeacePilgrim.org