Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live a minimalist lifestyle? It’s a movement I’ve been an admirer of for some time, but unwilling to put into practice in my own life until now.
Recently, I began watching a new survival show on Discovery Channel called “Dual Survival.” One of the featured survivalists, Cody Lundin, is also a minimalist, and goes about surviving extreme situations barefoot, and without other forms of survival gear.
My feet are too tender to go around barefoot, so I think I’ll keep my shoes for now. However, I do admire this guy, and others like him. They may have adopted minimalism for environmental reasons, economic reasons, or maybe some combination. Either way, their level of commitment reminds me just how addicted to stuff I still am, and has inspired me to rethink that addiction.
“But I Could Never Give Up My…”
How did you finish that sentence above? Daily cup of Starbucks? CD collection? Season football tickets? All of us probably have one thing we aren’t willing to give up. And maybe that’s the first thing that should go.
On the other hand, life is to be enjoyed. I’m reminded of words of wisdom from my grandfather who often reminded me to, “Stop and smell the roses. Life is to be enjoyed.” Well, there are plenty of “roses” available to smell that don’t cost much, so I am trying to adopt his philosophy with a frugal approach.
How Many Things Do You Own? How Many of Those Things Own You?
As I’ve tried to learn more about the minimalist approach, I’ve discovered a number of new blogs on minimalism. I’ll be sharing a few of my favorites in upcoming editions of the weekly roundup.
Several of the authors behind these blogs have advocated taking an inventory of just how much stuff you own. And they mean that quite literally. If you have 20 DVDs, 30 CDs, an Xbox with 5 games, a house, a car, a bicycle, 10 pairs of shoes, and a 5-piece art collection, you have 74 things. At least I think that’s the idea.
Not sure how far to break down the count – do I count the dishwasher and refrigerator inside my house? Do I count the things inside my refrigerator and the dishes currently in the dishwasher? Probably. You get the idea.
The point is, even if we don’t think we own a lot of stuff, we do. And how many of those things are things we continue to accumulate without receiving much value from them after the initial shine wears off?
I am not much of a collector, and I have few hobbies, so I naturally don’t collect a lot of things. But I haven’t always been that way, and my inventory of stuff is still representative of former life as a spendthrift.
Letting Go of Stuff is Hard
Over the next few weeks, as the weather beings to cool, I plan to begin making a weekly effort to get rid of some number of “things.” My plan is a sort of incremental minimalism in steps. Maybe I’ll get rid of 10 things a week, or completely empty one desk drawer, or garage shelf.
One week I’ll pull ten shirts I no longer wear and donate them to a shelter. Next week I’ll round up 10 games (video games, old board games, etc) I no longer play and drop them off at the children’s hospital. The next week maybe I’ll contribute to a neighbor’s yard sale by adding 10 DVDs to their collection for sale.
I’m still not settled on what is a reasonable number to get rid of each week, or if I’ll even track it by week or specific number. But I am convinced this is something I want to do. Having too much stuff is costly. It costs money to store it. It takes too much time to find the few things that are really important. And of course if you have really expensive things, you might even have to pay to insure it, or operate it, or clean it, or whatever. That’s the point where things begin to own you, and I want to begin moving away from that point.
Oddly enough, some people are comforted being surrounded by stuff. I am the complete opposite. For me, stuff is a distraction. There is a certain freedom that comes with owning less stuff. You feel less pinned down. You have less payments. You have more options. You more fully appreciate the few things you do have, and find yourself wanting less.
Over the next several weeks I’ll periodically update you on the things I’ve given away – maybe even share pictures of my collections on our Facebook page. I hope it will inspire a few of you to look around and free yourself of an addiction to things.
Look around the room you are in right now. Could you find 10 things to get rid of and barely even miss them? I see at least 10 in my already frugal home office (OK, I cheated a bit because my office doubles as our closet – and there are plenty of things to get rid of in here!). Off to grab a box and get on with round one.