Do You Have Too Much Stuff?
People have told me that my article "New Year Resolutions, Being Strong, Letting Go" was the right writing, that came at the right time.
I hope I’m hitting a home run with this one too. It’s about stuff.
This is not meant to be a writing on minimalism, but it is, in a way. I live a pretty minimal life. Minimalism for me doesn’t mean “don’t have anything”. We all have things, we all want things.
The goal of minimal living for me is not not to have things, but to have just enough things. To have enough food that I won’t die, but not more so I gain weight. To have the right food that is most nutritious, with the right amount of calories, at the right time. The same thing is true for stuff I own. I have one iPhone, not two. One is just enough.
The thing is we all consume stuff. We buy things, because we, at some point, thought that thing was going to improve our lives in a certain way, or make us happy. These things pile up over time. Clothes are a perfect example here.
One year we buy some pair of shoes. Somehow these shoes survive the season and they are still good enough for next year. So we keep them. Then another year passes by, now they start to look outworn, but we still keep them around, because they served us so well over the years.
Unwanted Stuff and Pain
With clothing it’s easy, because at a certain point we have a visual indication that we accumulated too much “stuff”. When the closet is getting too full, then it’s time to sort out old clothes.
With other stuff it’s not so easy. Just for a moment, I want you to find the nearest drawer, you know has all kinds of stuff in it. Open it. What does it have in it? All kinds of stuff. Empty the entire thing. I’m pretty sure you find one or two items in there where you’re going to wonder why you still have it.
Just seeing unwanted stuff creates a big enough energy in ourselves that we drop that thing in the next trash can. When you think about it. It’s an elevation of thoughts that finally makes you give in and throw it away. Ultimately unwanted stuff creates pain.
Let’s take this back to minimalism and thoughtfulness. Your brain is a powerful organ. It remembers a lot of stuff. Now imagine that all the unwanted things that you have around your house (or in your job life for that matter), but don’t consciously remember to have, your brain is aware of that they are still there. Imagine how good it must feel to relieve your brain off that stuff.
"The Process" is a very magical method that I came up with™. It’s called spring cleaning.
The way I go about cleaning “stuff” is basically ask myself if I really need it, what purpose an item is serving in my life, and what purpose it is going to serve. For example a couple of years I bought some hinges and screws and wood and whatnot to build a small recording cabin where I could record screencasts. Do you know what I just found in one of the drawers right next to my table? Said hinges and screws. Two years later that recording cabin still doesn’t exist. Now the question is. Now that I know that I once wanted to build a recording cabin, am I going to actually build it? Let’s just declare this project “unlikely”.
It was easy to throw the hinges away, but screws. Man. Screws are so useful. You can drill them inside of things and make stuff hang on them. That sounds pretty great. Let’s put them in the other drawer where I keep all the other screws. That drawer is full of screws, that can have things hang on them, already. I don’t need any more screws.
Minimalism is about being mindful about yourself and the future. In the future, if I have to screw something into something. How will that scenario unfold? I’m going to have the thing that needs to be screwed in front of me. I’m going to have my screwdriver ready. I’m going to open the drawer with all the screws in it, and if I don’t have the right screws, I’m just going to buy some. That’s contradicting I know. Bare with me for a second.
The thing is to be mindful that if you ever need screws, you’re going to get them, but right now there’s no need to have screws. A basic set of screws is healthy, but until you’re not a carpenter you probably don’t need to have all kinds of screws.1
This is how I think of “stuff” and getting to a minimal point where I can just be myself. Where I feel like “stuff” doesn’t control my life anymore. Where I have just barely enough to survive. Maybe I should write an article about having enough, now that I think of it.
Jesus, all I wanted to write was “Do some spring cleaning. It’s healthy!”. And now this is about minimalism and Feng Shui. Wat?
Unless, of course, you’re just building your own house. That’s a completely different story. In that case you have a need for screws. ↩