I’ve been blessed with a light schedule recently. While its made money a bit tight, its also forced to to re-evaluate whats important, what’s not, and what ownership/posessions really mean. One of my “gurus”, or life coaches is a man named Leo Balbuta. His blog, Zenhabits, has long been a source of inspiration in my own life, but his words have been joined by the readings of many others… There has been a theme that I have been interested in embracing.. that of reducing the number of owned physical objects. As Brad Pitt’s character in Fight Club stated,”The things you own end up owning you.”
It’s not easy at first. I was in a blind panic when I considered it. Just try making a short list of even the 20 things you own that you *need* to keep. Collections of things (plates and glasses, or toiletries) count as a single item. Seems easy, but as you start recording these items, you will keep adding more and more until its at 25 and you have plenty to go. I started by selling my television, my massive PC, my record player.. from there it gets easier and easier. If I feel attached to something, I’ll ask myself how long its been since I used it, and if it has gone untouched for 6 months, its gone. Try this tip that Jes Lacasse taught me. Go through your closet, and turn all your hangers backwards (so the loop is reverse to have you are comfortable keeping it) As you go about the next few months, and you wear something, go ahead and flip the hangar around and wear the item. Once you reach 6 months, anything that is still flipped around should be disposed of.
Its really shocking how attached we are to these objects… I was mortified to get rid of a suit I used to love to wear, and then realized I’d moved it from one apartment to the next and hadn’t touch it in over 2 years!
Objects we own often represent the physical manifestation of a memory (the hat we wore to an amazing concert), a goal (that tight grey tshirt we want to fit into once we lose weight), or to mark a trip somewhere exotic (that horrendous carved wooden shark in the back the the cupboard).. But you’ll find that it’s often because we don’t what to let something go emotionally.. We don’t want to admit that the carefree days of our past are gone with that hat… The tight tshirt is just a reminder that we are having difficulty losing weight… The person we went on that trip with is no longer in our lives, and we don’t want to admit that to ourselves.
I have found that if I have something really important to me, that I cannot let go of, I’ll destroy it. Rip a piece of clothing, break a knick-knack and throw it away.. once it’s ruined, that personal connection I had is gone, and its easy to let go (usually its objects of minimal value that create the strongest memories, which is interesting). It can be cathartic to break your connections physically, and I fully condone this practice, at least initially, as it makes moving forwards very simple.
Remember that it’s all just stuff. You can get more of it if you really want to, but the less cluttered your space is, the less cluttered your life, and your head, will become. I’ve touched on this briefly before, but this is definitely the next level of understanding. Less stuff gives you more freedom. Try it.