I spoke with a person recently who described themselves as ‘definitely-not-minimalist’ about how overwhelming it is to combat a world that is constantly calling on her to buy more and more.
She asked me how she could to stop the cycle of consumerism in her own life.
She was a person who have been accumulating stuff an incredibly long time. She was born in a generation that was defined by consumption and perpetuated by the prices of items falling at an incredible rate.
She bought into one of the great American dreams.
Success was stuff, America defined it. But all of that has changed, the internet has transformed our society into one that is fueled on information and ideas. We can work from anywhere, if we let ourselves see that.
Past the basic essentials that you need to live, most of the stuff we filled our lives with doesn’t matter anymore.
What people don’t realize, when they’re on a ten or fifteen year long consumption binge is just how difficult it is to dig yourself out from the weight of all of this stuff.
We can all understand this position. We all know people who’ve been there are going there. We might have been there ourselves.
So, how to take the first steps toward a minimalist existence, if you don’t know how to begin?
Liberate yourself from the overwhelming weight of your useless possessions.
I firmly believe that you can’t get over stuff until you have a mindset change. Chances are if you’re reading this, you’re there already. How do you get to this realization?
The first small choice you can make is to start to comprehend how much stuff costs you.
- It costs money to store stuff you’re not using. More stuff means a bigger house, if you have so much stuff you can’t fit in your house, then it means storing it. Bigger houses cost money, storing stuff costs money. Maybe take a moment and calculate how much you’re spending on your house and storage, paste this number on your wall. I guarantee it will scare you.
- Material possessions restrict your freedom. If you wanted to move, could you? How much would it cost to move? Think about it, if you have one box of stuff, you could move whenever you wanted. If you got bored of Cincinnati, you could be in Denver in no time. Just pack a bag.
- Stuff takes up your time. It takes time to sort through stuff, and the more clutter you have the harder it is to find things. This leads to more time being wasted. If time is money, then your stuff is putting you into massive debt. By erasing your ties to your stuff, it’s like your paying off a massive loan that you didn’t even know you had.
Think about it, if you had nothing but the essentials:
- You would have endless more time to do what you’re interested in.
- You would have so much more money to achieve your dreams.
- You would have the freedom to move about whenever you want.
Do you think this unobtainable? It’s not.
I live this life, I have a backpack of stuff that I use every day. I come and go as I please. My life costs nothing besides food and housing wherever I live, the rest of the money I save. I work on the internet, I could be anywhere. Most of all: I’m happy. It’s ultimate freedom, and most importantly, it’s possible for you too.
This is how you start to free yourself:
One thing at a time.
The first step: stop buying things.
If you find yourself contemplating buying something that’s not essential, take a breath, think about how much it actually costs. Walk away.
To begin decluttering: every day, just take one object and figure out what to do with it. Recycle it, donate it, throw it out. If you feel like you can do two, do it. If you feel like you can throw out a box of stuff, go for it.
This will accelerate into a cascading effect. When you realize just how important it is to live a free and enjoyable life without having to worry about possession overload, nothing can stop you.
The next step: Give it all away.
There are so many people in the world that need the things that you’re using now. They might only have money for food to feed their children. They might not have the education that you do, or the opportunities that you had. Give the stuff you these people. Donate it to a charitable organization, or put it up for free on Craigslist or Freecycle. Someone, somewhere will appreciate your stuff. It might even be useful to them.
The important part is to recognize that you don’t need it anymore, and then find the quickest way to get it all out of your life.
What methods do you use to reduce your clutter, to clean out your life? Leave it in the comments!
Far Beyond The Stars is a very new site, and I never imagined by this point we would have had over 6000 visitors and over 200 subscribers. Wow! It’s so exhilarating to see the traffic climb.
I’d love if more people found out about the site. If you enjoyed what you read here, I’d love it if you could share this with one friend or tweet this story. It’d make a world of difference, and I’d be eternally grateful.