You may own your stuff, but it owns you right back. It owns your money, your time, your attention, and space in your home.
I dress with 33 items or less and have lived with fewer than 100 personal items, but don’t believe owning less than a specific number of things will make you happier or make your life better. The number is not important.
It is important however, to understand the impact of things you buy, own, and take care of. Owning something might be a complete waste of money and time, or it might bring joy and value to your life. I own a laptop and it allows me to work from anywhere and connect with people everywhere. That = joy and value. I also own beautiful art that hangs on my walls. It’s not necessary, but it makes me smile. That = joy and value.
Owning less allows me to fully appreciate the things I do have, and it also reminds me that I don’t need much to be happy.
1 Sell your stuff.
Have a yard sale or list the stuff you don’t use or appreciate on eBay or Craigslist. Remember that all of these channels take time, so if you don’t need the money, or selling the item isn’t worth the time you have to invest, give it away.
2. Dump the guilt.
Instead of feeling guilty for spending so much or holding on so long, remind yourself that you have paid enough and let it go.
3. Practice one in, one out.
To prevent clutter creep and really think about your purchases, commit to donating one item for every item you bring home.
4. Hide it.
If you aren’t sure if you need or want something that you already own, hide it in an unmarked box for 30 days. If you don’t remember what’s in the box, give it away.
5. Ask 3 questions.
Joshua Becker invites you ask 3 questions before making any purchase. Read this to find out what questions you should be asking before purchasing clothing, furniture, food and other items.
The number isn’t important but challenging yourself to live or dress with a certain number of items gives you important information. It can help you determine what’s enough for you, and also make time and space for you to understand what you really want and need. Choose one of these simplicity challenges to get started:
- The Minimalist Game. Find a friend or family member. Someone who’s willing to get rid of some of their excess stuff. This month, each of you must get rid of one thing on the first day of the month. On the second, two things. Three items on the third. So forth, and so on. Anything can go!
- The Reverse 100 Thing Challenge. The point of the 100 Thing Challenge is to live with 100 things. The Reverse 100 Thing Challenge invites you to dump 100 things. If you’ve always thought that the 100 Thing Challenge is extreme, and that it would be impossible to only live with 100 things, then giving away only 100 things should be a breeze.
- Project 333. Challenge yourself, along with thousands of people around the world to dress with 33 items or less for 3 months. It may start in your closet, but dressing with less can change every area of your life.
7. Get rid of your duplicates.
Those buy one, get one sales may have been too good to pass up, but now you have two of everything and you aren’t even sure if you need one anymore. If it’s too hard to let them both go, keep one, and give the other away.
8. Don’t look for happiness at the mall.
Shopping and spending may give you a momentary happiness boost, but it doesn’t last long. Instead of looking for happiness out there, find it from the inside-out.
9. Borrow and trade.
Give away your books and go to the library when you want to read something new. Instead of shopping for new fashion, host a clothing swap. Sell your car and use a car sharing service like Zipcar. Trade your work. Colin Wright offers design services to restaurants or coffee shops in exchange for food and coffee when he travels.
10. Loosen your grip.
Every time I think something has a hold on me, I realize I’m the one with the tight grip. The first step to letting go is loosening the grip.
When you think about the money you spent to purchase and protect what you own, what you spend to maintain it, the time you spend cleaning it, worrying about it or organizing it, and the energy it costs just to have it around, you’ll discover that letting go is easier.
Own what you want, but always remember, it owns you too.