“Most of our troubles are due to our passionate desire for and attachment to things that we misapprehend as enduring entities.” ~Dalai Lama
Dave & I are in the active pursuit of minimizing our lifestyle.
There are a lot of reasons we feel compelled to do this. The most important reason is that it is improving our life.
Minimalism extends to many areas of life. Lately, we’ve been concentrating in the area of minimizing material stuff.
Before we moved cross-country from Wisconsin to Texas we got rid of a lot of stuff. In hindsight, I wish we’d gotten rid of more. It would have made the move easier.
In the last year, we have increased our whittle down efforts further. It is amazing how much stuff you can accumulate without hardly realizing it. When I began sorting through our things with a fine-tooth comb I came across so many items that we’d been toting around with us that we either never use or very seldom used. Plus all the completely useless stuff…things collected for “decoration” or emotional reasons e.g. old school papers, family “heirlooms”.
Our perspectives regarding the world at large have undergone some extensive remodeling over the past 5 years. Our minds changed first and our lifestyle began to change after that.
It has been good for us. Irony is: We view the world as a mess and getting worse, meanwhile our lives have been getting better as a result of intense scrutiny of these very same stark realities.
Part of our evolution has included a new mind-set regarding STUFF. The less we have of it…the freer we are to be happy.
I’ve found a lot of discussion on the net regarding “minimalism” as a lifestyle construct. It is an attitude of embracing life with less material content which leave space for “the things that really matter”. Less is more.
Less stuff to us means:
- Less to buy…less to have the “need” to pay for.
- Less to clean
- Less to organize
- Less to maintain/be responsible for
- Less waste – less cyclic consumption
- MORE freedom
- More clarity
- More time for activities that are meaningful to us – Stuff has a way of tying up your time.
The current circumstances of life dictate how much stuff we actually need. I don’t see a problem with having things that you utilize frequently – if the “thing” is necessary for your pursuits. We currently have needs for a certain amount of stuff relating to managing our little homestead project here at the HTF. However, I can envision us with even LESS stuff in the future should circumstances make it possible.
We’ve been selling stuff, giving it away, or otherwise disposing of it. The more the load is lightened the “lighter” and the better we feel.
Stuff we have been saying goodbye to:
- #1 Television – the one single thing I’d recommend doing without over all others! Dave & I have not subscribed to cable in over 3 years and have watched no television for over a year. It is a time consumer & time is Life…and in our opinion time is better spent otherwise engaged.
- Clothing! One day I will cheer when our wardrobe is reduced to the minimal!
- DVDs/ movies – we are finding it is more entertaining to DO stuff than sit and watch pretend stuff for hours.
- Music CDs
- Cleaning products. Everything we need to clean can be made from a few simple ingredients.
- Excessive personal “care” products: lotions, creams, make-up, hair goo, soaps, washes, etc.
- Books we’ve read- I prefer the library or an online book swap club instead of buying and keeping books with the exception of a few. The book exchange online community we participate in: www.paperbackswap.com
- Duplicates of tools, utensils, cookware, etc.
- Unused small appliances and electronic gadgets.
- Cell phones + plan. We now have 1 cell phone that is ONLY a phone & it is prepaid.
- Nostalgic bits: like things we made in school or saved from events, etc.
- Office Supplies- I am getting down to the very basics and digitizing everything that I can.
- Holiday decorations.
- Junk Mail- google “how to stop junk mail” and you’ll get lots of tips on how to (almost) totally eliminate this.
- Credit Cards – Don’t and Won’t have them. We avoid the road of paying for stuff you don’t need with money you don’t have like the plague.
- Air Conditioning – expensive unnecessary luxury for us.
- Long Distance phone service (we use the prepaid cell for that & the internet extensively to “reach out”.
The reduction is ongoing. I keep a box for things destined to be given away. When it’s full we take it to a charity store that operates in a small town near us. I’ve also had much success in selling stuff on eBay. We are using the money generated for making purchases of items we need for our house.
When we move into our new house we’ll no doubt be filtering additional items. We’ll see what fits, what is useful, etc- anything that doesn’t cut it will be sold or given away. It is our goal to have a clutter-free home and continue to refine our way of thinking about “stuff” so we can be as free of it as possible.
Beware of having the stuff you own turn around and own you.
Here are some sites about minimalism/simplicity: