Striving for less (stuff)

1st September 2011 by

Returning to the UK more than six years ago after spending 20+ years in Colombia was a great opportunity to get rid of a lot of stuff. When you have to fit your entire life in 2 suitcases you quickly learn to prioritise. While saying good-bye to my family I felt light (the bags were really heavy though), fresh and resourceful. I had myself + 2 suitcases and it was enough. It was like starting from scratch but knowing that there was nothing I couldn’t do without. Of course we all need food, shelter and clothing but by stuff I mean all the things we buy that end up piled somewhere, thrown away, stored under the bed or in our to-sort-out drawer. I stopped buying clothes 2 years ago but tops, trousers, and shoes keep coming my way. I still have the first mobile I bought upon arrival. It restarts when it wants to but it has never let me down. When I’m out and about and get lost I just ask people for directions. I can’t remember how many times someone has contacted me to let me know they are lost because their mobile phone map app isn’t working. My only advice in these situations is to ask bystanders like in the old times.

A year ago I came across a guy named Dave and the 100 thing challenge, his way to personalise his efforts to fight consumerism and “live a life of simplicity, characterised by joyfulness and thoughtfulness”. Dave has been inspiring hundreds of people around the world to reduce (the amount of stuff you have), refuse (to buy more stuff) and rejig (your priorities). When we realise we don’t need all the things we think we need we are taking our first step into reevaluating what’s important for us. Needing less stuff means we need less money, therefore we no longer have to accept the “default” working hours. What would we do with all that spare time? Probably more of the things we love doing. Happy people do the things they love doing. It probably also applies for most healthy people.

I like how Leo Babauta puts it:

1. Identify what’s most important to you.

2. Eliminate everything else.

He’s got a longer version here under the heading 72 ways to simplify your life.

Inspired by Dave and Leo I started to strive for less stuff and once again I feel like when I left Colombia.

So, if you:

1. have a sort-out you’ve been postponing,

2. misplaced your shed/garage keys on purpose, or

3. can’t fit one more thing under your bed;

striving for less could inspire you to get that job done. And remember, your unwanted, unused or used-but-forgotten stuff is someone’s treasure.

I’m a radiant sun now

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