In America, pride grows in the things we bring home to our families, compare with our neighbors and collect for ourselves. But the benefits of living counter to this culture far outweigh the temporary comforts we find in temporary stuff. Here are 5 reasons to live more by living with less:
1. Stress Less. Research has demonstrated that a cluttered room raises stress hormones. Something as common as increasing the items hung on your refrigerator door (yes, even your children’s photos and artworks) can raise stress. The less we stress, the fuller and happier we become for the people we care about in our lives.
2. Save Money. Purchasing only the necessary will result in more flexibility in your finances, including the ability to afford more experiences, give to charity, and save for financial stability. Also, purchasing only the essential allows you to choose higher quality items that will last much longer and will be less wasteful.
3. Positive for the Environment. The less we consume of our environment, the better our environment sustains for future generations. The less we own, the less we have to clean, which results in little chemical exposure and more time to do the things we love. You get more rest physically and mentally.
4. Visual Communication. By living with less, you communicate to your children and others around you what is most important in your life. You demonstrate that material items have no lasting meaning, and the items that you do own will communicate what you value most (like those photos and artworks on your fridge).
5. Live Happier. Smile and breath. Life is easier when you have less to manage. When you can locate things easier, are focused on what’s essential, and can separate yourself from consumerism culture, you become more productive. Many people find that with less stuff, they can do work they love.
Beginnings can be obscure and fearful. Often we don’t get rid of something due to fear that we will regret it in the future. Also, we tend to become attached sentimentally to items from our past. Things sometimes hold memories that would seem to dissipate if we remove it. By reflecting and putting our best, small efforts forward, we can seek the goal. Perhaps these simple steps might help you begin.
1. Identify your weakness(es). Everyone has their own niche for stuff. Ours is entertainment media. We spend and accumulate an excess of media. We have books, cds, dvds, digital devices, and electronics galore. Others might be clothing, housewares, children toys, furniture, beauty products, home improvement supplies, or something as good-natured as culinary ingredients. Knowing your spending weakness is the first step to admitting our susceptibility to advertising, our role in consumerism culture, and our ability to control our cravings.
2. Take 5 minutes. Each day, rid your space of at least 1 thing by following this weekly schedule. Set out a plastic or paper bag, cardboard box, or bin by your trash can to collect items throughout the week. Trash or re-purpose the things that cannot be donated, and by the time you need to run errands on the weekend, you’ll have a nice group of goods to drop off at your local charities.
Media Monday: sort through and remove one media item, such as a movie, video game, book, or cd.
Toiletry Tuesday: visit your medicine cabinets, bathroom drawers, and linen closets to remove old, outdated, and unessential items.
Wardrobe Wednesday: if a clothing article does not regularly go through your laundry, it means that you don’t love that article.
Things Thursday: I know; very vague. But Thursdays are your chance to go after that pile of stuff you’ve been avoiding, the drawer of odds and ends, or any other items that have found their way to the dark corners of our shelves.
Furniture or Food Friday: ask yourself if there are any furniture items that you could do without, or food in your pantry/fridge of which you feel the same way.
Storage Saturday: Some of us have small storage under our beds, while some of us have huge storage basements or rooms. Go into which ever storage space it is and don’t come out until you have at least one items to remove.
Sunny Sunday: Often we collect stuff for our lawns, gardens, and garages. Assess anything you keep outdoors for stuff you don’t need, which could include tools, furniture, toys, camping gear, garden supplies, hardware, and pet supplies.
The goal is to have 365 less things by the end of the year by following the 5 min/7 days a week rule and controlling your clutter-craving habits!
3. Reward yourself with experiences. So often we subconsciously value things as one of our emotional bumpers; that, and food. Rather than mindlessly consuming and purchasing things we hope will make us feel great, we can find more fruitful and fulfilling endeavors to spark the pleasure centers in our brains. Check out smART Experiences and You Shall Be Called “Creative” for some frugal and enjoyable ideas.