Less Clutter Equals More Happiness?

April 28, 2009

I belong to a book club and one of the inserts in a recent mailing caught my attention. They had grouped all the ‘clutter buster’ books together.  Titles like Throw Out Fifty Things, Kick The Clutter, Does this Clutter Make My Butt Look Fat, and When Organizing Isn’t Enough, were included. Those were just a handful of the books offered to help me get rid of my stuff.  The idea each one is selling is that by getting rid of stuff, my life, my health, and my mind will improve.

A lot of my stuff is ‘good’ stuff. It would be ideal for someone who needed it. I just don’t need it either right now, or anymore. I thought I needed it when I got it. For example, I have many spools of lovely ribbon. Some thin satin and some thick velvet. This is perfectly good ribbon that was purchased for my wedding in 1999. The marriage lasted two years but I still have this ribbon. I cannot throw it away. There is nothing wrong with it, except that I don’t need it. I know, craigslist, freecycle, yard sale. I will probably freecycle it soon. But my ribbon predates several of those options which is why I guess I still have it. My ribbon is just one example, and I’m sure you have something similar in your closet, or drawer, or on a shelf somewhere.

I have cleaned out and gotten rid of stuff before. I always feel lighter when there is less stuff in my house. So, lately, I have been wondering. How ‘light’ can I be? How much can I pare down? How few things can I have and still have ‘enough.’  I have come to realize that for me, one feeling I get from owning stuff is security. I have XX number of blankets = safe from cold. I have XX number of pots and pans = I can prepare food whenever and however I wish.  Have you noticed that feeling? Do you feel safe or secure from having possessions? I have read many times that it gets to a point where our stuff owns us. The upkeep and care, the time we have to spend on our possessions wears us down and wears us out. I think that’s true, to much stuff is bad. But, where is the balance? To little stuff is also bad.

Part of my plan for this year is to donate a lot of items, to sell items, and to swap items. That last one will not reduce how much I have, but I will get rid of something I don’t want and get something I do want. I am curious to see how low I can go. I have reduced my electricy usage much more than I thought I could. I look forward to reducing how much stuff I own. I want to see how high my happiness can go.

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