The message our society lives by most often is the more the better. More stuff = more happiness, right?
About 6 months ago I started an experiment. I was going to buy less and donate about 1/3 of my belongings. Not all at once, but slowly, over time. Here are some of the lessons that I have learned as I make progress with buying and consuming less and purging more!
1. Stuff doesn't make me happy.
It is not the stuff that makes us happy, it is the thought of what the items will bring us. That dress will make me confident enough to do X. That car is going to make me look successful. That belonging is going to make me feel accomplished. Don't get me wrong, there are some things you need to live comfortably and there is a certain amount of privilege associated with the fact that I can even make consuming less a priority. I believe if you can afford to consume more, you have a duty and a responsibility to the planet and to your community.
2. I appreciate empty spaces.
I used to look at an empty space like an empty drawer, or shelf, and think, what could I put here? I would have stuff tucked away in every nook and cranny. Now I think, do I need anything there? I now can look at an empty space and appreciate it. I have empty spaces in my home and I find them relaxing! I recently made a meditation corner in my office and it feels good to have the space to experiment with. I enjoy the look of my tables and shelves even more when they are not drowning in items.
3. You don't necessarily need a bigger house, you may just need less belongings.
I get it. Sometimes you just need more space. Maybe you are a homebody with a large family or perhaps you have a lot of hobbies that take up space…or maybe you just own too much crap. If you are having to put items in storage, or buying more storage containers and shelving, maybe it is time to donate or sell some of those belonings.
4. The dream of the item is always better than actually owning it.
Imagining how that fancy coat will make you look, or how confident you will feel in that expensive car is always better than the reality of it. The truth is, that reliable but less expensive car will be just as satisfying as the expensive one and that less costly coat will bring you the same level of "happiness" that you are imagining receiving from the designer one! It is not the stuff that brings you joy, it is how you think the stuff will make you feel.
5. I never miss what I purge.
If I attempted to list everything I have parted with over the past 6 months I would maybe be able to recall 5 items. I never miss something after I let it go. This is ironic because as you may know, it is very hard to let stuff go sometimes! Common thoughts creep in when I am trying to part with an item- I might miss this, I might want to wear this one day, or I paid too much for this to let it go. Just be honest with yourself! If you know you truly won't use it and it is better off going to someone who will, just let it go.
7. I have less buyers remorse and consumerism hangovers.
You know that feeling when you are out buying that thing that you know you always buy too much of? Whether it is books, clothing, expensive junk food, music, shoes, WHATEVER it is- it feels great in the moment, but then buyers remorse settles in after the shopping high is over and you are left feeling hung over and broke. I used to get buyers remorse frequently, but not anymore!
8. I have more money.
When you commit to less impulsive buys and spend less money on "stuff" you will have more money. In the begnining if you have the urge to go buy things, look for stuff to donate instead.
9. It feels good to donate nice stuff.
I used to mainly donate stuff that I felt was too worn, or that I didn't think was nice enough to hold onto. Try donating stuff that you still like and that is in great condition. People like being able to own nice things and it feels good knowing that someone is going to be happy to find a great deal on a good product.
10. If I don't see it, it basically doesn't exist.
I have discovered that if I can't see something, it basically doesn't exist. That bottle of whatever, tucked away in a box behind that basket of art supplies? If I can't see it, I don't know it is there. When you clear away clutter and make it easy to access everything you own, you will appreciate and use more of what you already have!