Do you have too much stuff? Is your life ruled by all the things you’ve accumulated? I can sheepishly say that I probably have too much stuff. I especially have too many shoes, water bottles from my days as a triathlete, and T- shirts from all the different races, organizations, and teams I’ve been a part of. I also own a lot of books. I should have gotten my kindle earlier. But that’s beside the point and while a kindle may make your life simpler, it doesn’t necessarily cut down on the amount of stuff you have. After all, you did buy another gadget, I tell myself. Anyway, the blog A Guy Named Dave, written by Dave, obviously, writes about his 100 Thing Challenge. This is quite admirable as he has cut down his worldly possessions to 100 things. Living in consumerism America, this seems really difficult but also extremely appealing to me. I make excuses to myself like “Oh, I’m a woman and it’s harder for women because they like clothes and makeup more than men,” or “It’s hard to do something like that because we live in the US, where having too much stuff is so common” or “that would be impossible in LA.” And then I talk to my friend Jordan about taking just a backpack to India and it’s an idea that is quite irresistible to the both of us. Then I remind myself that I lived in Spain with two suitcases and a backpack worth of stuff and was quite happy. We all have many pulls and influences on our lives but that is what makes stepping outside the box even more refreshing. Luckily Dave allows you to group things like socks and underwear to avoid being gross. Dave also says that it’s not so much about keeping your list to exactly 100 things but more about changing your consumer habits. He, being the overachiever that he seems to be, has a list of roughly 94 things.
I need this and I can think of a good number of people I know that would probably be happier living this kind of lifestyle as well. That assumes that they have the kind of personality that would make this appealing to them and that they wouldn’t lose all “meaning” in their life if they stopped shopping. In other words, if you can’t imagine your life without shopping frequently for yourself or buying something all the time, you clearly have bigger fish to fry. I’m just being frank.
I’ve also heard the idea of getting rid of 5 things a day just to de-clutter your life and space. I plan on doing this when I get back to my apartment in LA. Five things a day makes it less overwhelming and allows you to think about what you’re getting rid of.
Here are a few good resources about de-cluttering, simplifying, and avoiding the consumerism trap:
Gretchen Rubin wrote about how to identify clutter on Zen Habits
Jeffery Tang, also on Zen Habits wrote about an overhaul of getting rid of stuff using the Clean-Slate method
A previous PV post on consumerism
Materialism is a form of self-violence as you are bringing unhappiness upon yourself. When less is more
Be aware of how marketing affects your life! An Art of Non Conformity article on Why People Hate Marketers and why it’s not all about making money, all the time.
Good luck! Hopefully you can find your own path to simplicity and happiness.