Living With Fewer Things


Every morning comes with a new beginning, or in this case, another excuse to dredge through the small clothing store you call your closet.  You open the doors, shift through item after item, pushing each article to the side with more force than you probably need to. 

Nothing…  Out of an endless array of fabrics and cuts, you find yourself frustrated by your lack of options. You reach for the same combination you always do and head for coffee.  In your kitchen you find cups and mug balanced precariously inside cabinets.  Some have chips in them.  Others you haven’t touched since your high school days.  They consume your cabinet space like unwanted weeds.  You grab the same mug you always do, sit down and push aside the unopened envelopes on the table.  The room is fairly tidy, but cluttered none the less.  You feel anxious this morning.  There is an unseen weight on you that you can’t seem to shake.

There is no time to rest, and off you go to work.

When your items begin to own you, you feel it in more ways than just clutter.

This example can be anyone and I’m sure many of my readers can relate.  We own too much.  When we own too much, we become a part of those materials.  Although having things and the act of purchasing them may give us brief happiness, overtime they will drain that same feeling away.  Their presence is a reminder of how you need to clean them, maintain them, perhaps organize or even get rid of them.  Sometimes the attachment is emotional, other times it’s the reminder that you spent good money on that item, so simply tossing it seems wasteful.

What is wasteful is the act of allowing your time and space to be eaten away by something that doesn’t bring you joy.

There is a sort of peace, or perhaps balance, that is achieved by lessening the amount of things you have in your space. When you can breath easily and move about without restriction, your mind calms down.  If each morning is a frustration to you because you find yourself overwhelmed by the amount of options you have just to dress yourself; image how that very same concept can affect you with other things.  More options or items does not always equal more opportunities for happiness.  When you par down your items, choosing only the ones that you find yourself repeatedly being drawn too, you end up surrounding yourself with only the things that bring you joy. 

Image how that would feel.  Waking up each morning and starting your day with only seeing and touching the very things that make you feel content. Instead of feeling overwhelmed by the sheer volume of things around you, you instead are able to appreciate the vacant space.  You can breath. 

Fewer things may seem like the exact opposite approach to the typical American lifestyle, but drowning in items isn’t healthy.  We are visual creatures. What we see both stimulates and engages us.  If we are over stimulated, we became anxious, irritable, depressed, even confused.  Physical items are often overlooked in the psychological aspect of day to day life, but it’s just as important as the images you see.   

Part of finding happiness is to first find balance.

The amount of items that can begin to make a difference is going to vary from person to person.  Some people find calm with extreme minimalism, living out of a backpack of 30 items or less.  Others maybe find that they only need to cut away a bit of excess from their belongings, such as books or trinkets they no longer use.  It’s different for everyone.  

Try looking at what you own.  What in your life has caused your anxiety lately at home?  Have you looked at your book collection and thought –“Geez, I need to clean these out…”  If you so, do it now.  Maybe you are the person in the example above with the droves of clothes.  Now is a great time to pull them out and toss away or donate anything that you don’t absolutely love. 

Start small and see how having less things in your life has made you happier or more at ease.  Where would you begin? 

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