My current living situation begs the question: Why do I want to live on less? I talked about some of the benefits of living in a smaller space, but I haven’t really talked about the part of this experience where the hubby and I felt the need to downsize and get rid of a lot of our stuff. The idea of living on less stuff is really something that we hope carries over into the rest of our lives from this point on, even when we’re back in a “normal-sized” house.
I have to ask myself: What is important to me? What benefits me, personally? What benefits my family? What benefits the world? Do I do my community – or my planet – any good when I’m sucked in to a “stuff” mentality?
How do I spend my time? This is a huge part of this whole minimalism idea. I can spend my time cleaning and picking up my stuff, playing with my stuff, watching my stuff, trying to get more stuff.
If I have cable TV available (usually this is only at a hotel), I will often turn to that over a book. If I have League of Legends available (and a good internet connection), I will often turn to that rather than set time aside to write or draw. If I need to wash and wax my fancy car, shine my silverware, get my nails manicured, pick up 50 little toys that my kids (or animals) play with once and then forget about, and fold ten loads of laundry every weekend, what time does that leave for anything else? When might I get a chance to plant a tree of volunteer for my community? When might I get a chance to invest time and attention into my family by taking them to the park? When might I get a chance to grow my mind and talents for God’s glory?
I don’t like the time-suck that is an abundance of stuff. But, more than that, I don’t like the FEELING of having tons of stuff. I don’t like it surrounding me; I don’t like how my atmosphere feels. Clutter feels bad, simply put. That’s the only way I know to say it. Clutter is both a time-suck and a. a. happiness-suck. Sucks the joy right out of me.
If you haven’t ever lived in a cluttered space, just imagine having to move junk from the table to the couch just so you can use the table for dinner or for a board game. Then imagine having to move the junk from the couch back to the table so you can have a place to sit. Or imagine having so many dishes that you can go a week without washing any, and by the end of the week you not only have a sink so full you can’t even use it but you have to spend an hour of your life catching up.
Clutter.sucks the joy right out.
By contrast, emptiness and cleanliness are peaceful and enjoyable states for me to live in. I like seeing the floor, seeing all the furniture, and being able to sit on any part of the couch (not just the side that doesn’t currently have stuff on it). I love being able to move around freely in my living space without tripping over things that have no place – or have a hard time staying in their places. I love being able to wash my hands easily in an empty sink. Less clutter feels good to me, and it frees up more time for me to spend on being creative, enjoying the outdoors, interacting with my husband and my animals.
I can almost hear some of your reactions:
“That’s great for you, but I don’t have a ‘stuff’ problem.”
“I don’t think the ‘minimalist’ thing is the way to go for me. I’m not in to volunteer work, and I’m not very creative. Besides, I get plenty of time together with my spouse.”
Do I think everyone could benefit from some downsizing?
Yeah, I really do think everyone could benefit from the experience.
But that doesn’t mean that getting rid of half your stuff and moving into an RV is the way to go for you. Maybe, for some, a mission trip is a good way to learn that lesson. Maybe regular camping trips are the way to go, because they help you shift your focus. I don’t know. But I have a strong suspicion that being forced (either by yourself or by another) into a life without stuff would make the situation less beneficial. If you’re doing it for the wrong reason (being forced vs wanting it) or from the wrong mindset (I’ll try this thing she’s doing but I doubt it will work out vs I think this will be good for me ), I don’t know how much good it will do you. Don’t set yourself up for failure by going into it with a closed mind.
I’ll say this, though. If you do want it, don’t be afraid. Don’t hesitate, wondering if you can really stand to part with all your stuff. Don’t plan to do it in a year or five years. JUMP IN!! Start today! Set up a box (or bag) for items “to donate.” Start in a closet and start to toss things in the box that you don’t regularly use or wear. You’ve got to start somewhere.
Some more cool thoughts over on 7 Tips to Get With a New Minimalist Mentality.
Feel free to leave more tips in the comments!