Owning Less Stuff

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Owning Less Stuff

When I was moving into my own place, I opted for a smaller place (a studio) instead of a one bedroom even though the one bedroom was almost twice as large and I could easily afford it. My thinking is that I had no need for the additional space and it would just encourage me to get more stuff (stuff tends to fill all available space).

Over the last few months I have come to appreciate how freeing it is to own less stuff. Over the last ten years I have been getting rid of stuff and am really feeling the freedom it creates. When you get new stuff, you get excited because of the way it will improve your life (when you use it or whatever), but you forget about the way it burdens you. You have to find a place to keep it and keep it safe....

For example, owning a nice big house is nice, but big houses tend to come with big yards and require effort (or money) to keep maintained. The roof on a house doesn't last forever and when it needs repairing, the larger the roof the greater the cost. If you don't repair the roof, the house will soon be ruined and we just can't bear the thought of giving up on the house (that we enjoy so much). And so it is with all possessions, they have their plusses but also have hidden (or unappreciated) costs. Owning a nice big house is fine if you can easily afford the costs it comes with, but is not something to aspire to if the costs would be a burden (working longer hours, etc.).

So my goal is to own a very few things that I use a lot. I like to repair stuff, so having tools is a good idea (as I use them regularly), but I try to get rid of tools that I don't actually use (which is really hard for me as I have a great affection for tools).

Owning less stuff makes my life sweeter as it is easy to really appreciate the few things that I do have (and feeling appreciation and gratitude is really the key to enjoying life). Likewise, owning less stuff reduces my stress as there is less for me to worry about (the hidden cost of feeling that you need to protect and preserve your possessions). It gives me more freedom to move and make other choices as I have less baggage (literally).

I personally make getting rid of stuff a slow and gradual process. For one thing if I get rid of too much stuff at one time, I am likely to get rid of the things that I really need (or things that I use often and are worth the effort of maintaining). Also, I like to appreciate all of my possessions (appreciation is the key to enjoying life, right) and so getting rid of them is a process of finding a good home for each thing I get rid of (allows me to truly express my appreciation to whoever or whatever provided me with that thing).

Using the object until it is all worn out (like a pair of shoes) is most satisfying to me, but giving it to someone who can really use it is very nice, too. However, I don't want to just foist my albatross onto someone else. Giving stuff to a thrift shop/charity is good, but much of my stuff is too worn and beaten to be of use to them. So, using it until I can recycle it my normal way of disposing of stuff. Throughout, I try to be thankful for everything I have even as I slowly have less and less. The net result is a noticable improvement in the quality of my life.

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This page was last updated on December 26, 2007