Simplicity

You always find out how much stuff you really have when you move. You also realize how much you have that you don't use. Think about it. How much stuff do you have that you wouldn't miss if you didn't have it? Really? How much would you never know is gone? Those are the questions I asked myself, and am still asking myself, as I packed up my belongings and then unpacked them shortly thereafter. Going to Africa was a terrific lesson in how much I have that I don't need. For example, in a book I was recently reading, it said we use about 20% of our wardrobe 80% of the time. The author suggested moving everything you wear for a month to one side of the closet and seeing how much you use for yourself. Now I haven't done that, but I know even after all the cleaning out of my closet I have done in the last year and again when I moved, I still have way too many clothes. Every time I get rid of some of the clothes, it's easier to give away more. I have this ideal in my mind of a closet with tons of open space, of clothes that wave in the breeze. I admire people's ability to keep themselves to this lower amount which is so much better financially, spatially, and mentally. The author of the previous book I mentioned also stated it is better to buy three good quality outfits you love rather than 20 that aren't of good quality and that you don't totally love and will wear. I have certainly been guilty of liking something in the store and then realizing I'm not such a fan of it after all after a few weeks of looking at it in my closet.

When going through clothes, it's hard to get past the notion I could still wear the garment or even harder, I still wear it once in a great while. But really, how many clothes do I need? That is how many I should have. This ideally should go for everything I own. I don't need that many VHS movies (I only get my favorites on DVD), I don't need all that silverware or dishes, and I certainly don't need all those books. (The books are really hard for me to give away, though I have been known to do so... on occasion...)

This is a huge difference in questions. When you are going through items, don't ask, "Will I use it?" because you can nearly always justify that question with, "I may use that one day." Ask yourself, "Do I need it?" And I have to tell you with all honesty, most of the time, the answer is no. We, in actuality, only need a fraction of what we own. Now, I have seen homes with, by American standards, are extremely sparse and they are refreshing. On the end of the spectrum, I have seen homes absolutely packed with books and knick-knacks and pretty much, a lot of junk. (This is why I am concerned about the extent of my library at age 30. I don't want to be 60 and utterly surrounded with books.) Myself, I fall toward the spartan end of the spectrum but I'm not all the way there. I like having a few things around, some rugs, pictures, and beautiful things to make me feel like that is my home. My bedroom and kitchen are there. My living room could use a little more work in this area. It is all a work in progress.

The funny thing about "lightening the load" is it does just that. It lightens your load. It helps clear your mind mentally and I actually feel better having less stuff. There is less to clean, less to keep track of, less to deal with. The culture I live in will tell you that you will feel better with more stuff but this is not true, you actually feel worse! It is also so much easier to keep things clean when you have less stuff. If your house is messy, you either have too much stuff or you have kids. Actually, whether or not you have kids, you still probably have too much stuff. As I've given things away, I find my house stays a lot cleaner. The most cleaning I now have to do in my bedroom is make the bed. I love it. This coupled with the self-discipline of keeping things picked up, putting things away after I use them, has brought on a real miracle in my life! When I go to look for something, there it is! (Except for my keys, I still keep misplacing those.) Think about how much time you can then devote to other endeavours if you lessen your belongings and then organize the ones you have.

The trick to this whole thing after giving away the unneeded items is to not bring any more in. I am now very careful about bringing new items home. Not being a big fan of shopping anyway, it can still be a challenge when other people try to give away things to me instead of the other way around. I don't need them so I don't bring them home. (But I will warn you, if you come to my house, I will present you with a list of things I have to give away so if you come over, just ignore that part about taking things home with you.) Shopping is now quite fun. When I do need to go to a store, I can look at all the items for sale and think about how so much of it is just junk that simply takes up space and empties my bank account. I, and you, don't need it!

I know it can be hard to start in on this simplification process. Short of moving, the first step would be to start with one area: your clothes, books, movies, or kitchen items for example. Go through all these areas one by one. As you realize, as you certainly will, how good it feels to have less things and how you don't even miss them, you will feel more comfortable giving away more, the next layer if you will. There are clothes I am completely fine giving away now that I was not okay with before. Each layer that walks out my door is another layer I am now ready to release.

One of my inspirations for cleaning things out is A&E's show on hoarding. I am not a hoarder but I have kept things because I might use them one day and words from the show such as you are not your things and the question of would you rather live in the present and into the future or are you holding onto your past, have been very helpful. I highly recommend it. http://www.aetv.com/hoarders/index.jsp

Simplicity isn't just something for my schedule, or even my home, it is a way of life. It is something that can characterize every aspect of our lives. And once you live it out in one area, you will want to start integrating it into others.

You will notice throughout this post, I keep using the term give it away instead of get rid of it. Sometimes you do just need to get rid of it, unload it all at once. But I have tried to make sure it goes places where the things will be used, or at least given to a good cause. My clothes goes to a clothes closet at a local church and I gave a bunch of things to a non-profit hosting a rummage sale. Other things I have given to friends who wanted them, who would actually use them and enjoy the items. That in itself is it's own joy.

Labels:

Walking the Sea: Simplicity

Monday, July 12, 2010

Simplicity

You always find out how much stuff you really have when you move. You also realize how much you have that you don't use. Think about it. How much stuff do you have that you wouldn't miss if you didn't have it? Really? How much would you never know is gone? Those are the questions I asked myself, and am still asking myself, as I packed up my belongings and then unpacked them shortly thereafter. Going to Africa was a terrific lesson in how much I have that I don't need. For example, in a book I was recently reading, it said we use about 20% of our wardrobe 80% of the time. The author suggested moving everything you wear for a month to one side of the closet and seeing how much you use for yourself. Now I haven't done that, but I know even after all the cleaning out of my closet I have done in the last year and again when I moved, I still have way too many clothes. Every time I get rid of some of the clothes, it's easier to give away more. I have this ideal in my mind of a closet with tons of open space, of clothes that wave in the breeze. I admire people's ability to keep themselves to this lower amount which is so much better financially, spatially, and mentally. The author of the previous book I mentioned also stated it is better to buy three good quality outfits you love rather than 20 that aren't of good quality and that you don't totally love and will wear. I have certainly been guilty of liking something in the store and then realizing I'm not such a fan of it after all after a few weeks of looking at it in my closet.

When going through clothes, it's hard to get past the notion I could still wear the garment or even harder, I still wear it once in a great while. But really, how many clothes do I need? That is how many I should have. This ideally should go for everything I own. I don't need that many VHS movies (I only get my favorites on DVD), I don't need all that silverware or dishes, and I certainly don't need all those books. (The books are really hard for me to give away, though I have been known to do so... on occasion...)

This is a huge difference in questions. When you are going through items, don't ask, "Will I use it?" because you can nearly always justify that question with, "I may use that one day." Ask yourself, "Do I need it?" And I have to tell you with all honesty, most of the time, the answer is no. We, in actuality, only need a fraction of what we own. Now, I have seen homes with, by American standards, are extremely sparse and they are refreshing. On the end of the spectrum, I have seen homes absolutely packed with books and knick-knacks and pretty much, a lot of junk. (This is why I am concerned about the extent of my library at age 30. I don't want to be 60 and utterly surrounded with books.) Myself, I fall toward the spartan end of the spectrum but I'm not all the way there. I like having a few things around, some rugs, pictures, and beautiful things to make me feel like that is my home. My bedroom and kitchen are there. My living room could use a little more work in this area. It is all a work in progress.

The funny thing about "lightening the load" is it does just that. It lightens your load. It helps clear your mind mentally and I actually feel better having less stuff. There is less to clean, less to keep track of, less to deal with. The culture I live in will tell you that you will feel better with more stuff but this is not true, you actually feel worse! It is also so much easier to keep things clean when you have less stuff. If your house is messy, you either have too much stuff or you have kids. Actually, whether or not you have kids, you still probably have too much stuff. As I've given things away, I find my house stays a lot cleaner. The most cleaning I now have to do in my bedroom is make the bed. I love it. This coupled with the self-discipline of keeping things picked up, putting things away after I use them, has brought on a real miracle in my life! When I go to look for something, there it is! (Except for my keys, I still keep misplacing those.) Think about how much time you can then devote to other endeavours if you lessen your belongings and then organize the ones you have.

The trick to this whole thing after giving away the unneeded items is to not bring any more in. I am now very careful about bringing new items home. Not being a big fan of shopping anyway, it can still be a challenge when other people try to give away things to me instead of the other way around. I don't need them so I don't bring them home. (But I will warn you, if you come to my house, I will present you with a list of things I have to give away so if you come over, just ignore that part about taking things home with you.) Shopping is now quite fun. When I do need to go to a store, I can look at all the items for sale and think about how so much of it is just junk that simply takes up space and empties my bank account. I, and you, don't need it!

I know it can be hard to start in on this simplification process. Short of moving, the first step would be to start with one area: your clothes, books, movies, or kitchen items for example. Go through all these areas one by one. As you realize, as you certainly will, how good it feels to have less things and how you don't even miss them, you will feel more comfortable giving away more, the next layer if you will. There are clothes I am completely fine giving away now that I was not okay with before. Each layer that walks out my door is another layer I am now ready to release.

One of my inspirations for cleaning things out is A&E's show on hoarding. I am not a hoarder but I have kept things because I might use them one day and words from the show such as you are not your things and the question of would you rather live in the present and into the future or are you holding onto your past, have been very helpful. I highly recommend it. http://www.aetv.com/hoarders/index.jsp

Simplicity isn't just something for my schedule, or even my home, it is a way of life. It is something that can characterize every aspect of our lives. And once you live it out in one area, you will want to start integrating it into others.

You will notice throughout this post, I keep using the term give it away instead of get rid of it. Sometimes you do just need to get rid of it, unload it all at once. But I have tried to make sure it goes places where the things will be used, or at least given to a good cause. My clothes goes to a clothes closet at a local church and I gave a bunch of things to a non-profit hosting a rummage sale. Other things I have given to friends who wanted them, who would actually use them and enjoy the items. That in itself is it's own joy.

Labels:

1 Comments:

At July 14, 2010 at 5:22 PM , Blogger Aimee said...

Nice post Sarah. I had this funny idea: invite a friend over to your house to remove several items, anything they choose. You can have them back when you realize what was taken. I wonder how long it would take people to figure out everything that was removed?
I'm somewhat lucky in this that I hate spending money and my mom instilled in me the idea of want versus need. But we still have a lot of crap around here. I blame it on my husband. ;-)

 

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