With the popularity of Maria Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and the tiny house phenomenon that seems to be sweeping every decorating and DIY channel, it would seem we are in the midst of a movement to downsize, declutter, and minimize. As much as I appreciate the reasons and sensibility of doing so, I am not necessarily on board with this movement. Decluttering, yes – but living as a minimalist? No. I like my space. I have a plethora of art supplies – perhaps half of which I could do without, but all of which I use at some point during any three-month period.
My husband and I live with our dog and cat in a nice-sized house for a couple – unless he’s rehearsing with his electric guitar and I am trying to nap. Then, it feels the size of a refrigerator box when I need a box that would hold a 747.
While the collecting of stuff is an aspect of materialism, we more broadly think of materialism as a disinterest in spiritual, intellectual, or cultural values in favor of a preoccupation with physical objects, comforts, and considerations. A materialistic person likes things more than ideas, values stuff more than relationships. Seems a bit shallow, but we’re all different – that’s what makes life interesting.
ScientificAmerica reported in 2014 that the longest study ever conducted on materialism found that becoming less materialistic leads to greater contentment in life. A major disadvantage of materialism is that focusing all your attention on acquiring more things means you lose sight of the everyday pleasures that will actually give you fulfillment and satisfaction. Chasing the things money can buy is a revolving door to ever wanting more.
The reasons materialism is unfulfilling are many. I heard a quote many years ago that went something like “If your goal in life is money, power, or fame, you’ll never be sated and you will forever be seeking more of them.” Materialism is pretty much all those things wrapped up one big ball. The more you chase the ball, the farther you have to run.
Then there’s the matter of the anticipation of acquiring the fancy car or big house being more satisfying than actually having the fancy car or big house. What do you do when you get the thing you’ve always wanted and you still don’t feel very good or like yourself very much?
Seeking material things to fulfill our lives is an empty promise because we can’t create relationships with things, and relationships are ultimately what make us happy and give our lives purpose. The more positive you are in life – and less materialistic – the greater the chances you have strong relationships, and vice-versa. An unfortunate number of people don’t realize this until they’ve lost the relationship, due to death, divorce, or deliberate distancing.
None of this is to say that having nice things is bad, especially if they make you feel good. But authentically good, not keeping up with the Joneses good. I would never encourage anyone to feel guilty for driving an expensive car or taking pride because they have a magazine-cover home. If having those things is your end goal, however, you might have some room to bring more positivity into your life.
If it appeals to you, you can start today to become less materialistic. Begin by emphasizing experiences over possessions. Take a day trip with your partner or a friend that doesn’t involve shopping. Be present and involved in the conversation. Listen, without thinking what you will say next.
Another thing you can do is to limit your TV and social media time. All those ads and beautiful Instagram pics are designed to make you envious and feel like you need to compete or keep up. Take the time you’re away from your screen to explore your passions and interests. What have you always wanted to do or learn? Now is the perfect time to sign up for a class or plan an outing.
Lastly, even if your stuff is in neat piles, you might have clutter. So think about cutting some of your possessions loose. If you don’t use them, they don’t give you authentic pleasure, or you bought them out of spite or envy, perhaps rehoming them and creating breathing space would be a bigger benefit than holding onto them.
If you really want to make strides toward bringing more authentic positivity into your life, sign up today for the 30-Day Positivity Challenge. This complimentary 30-day series of exercises gives participants a variety of assignments conducive to feeling better, overall. According to inspirational speaker Abraham Hicks, “Few realize that they can control the way they feel and positively affect the things that come into their life experience by deliberately directing their thoughts.” Abraham Hicks says we accomplish this by simply “reach[ing] for a better feeling thought.”
The decision is yours: Will you choose positivity?
JOIN THE 30-DAY POSITIVITY CHALLENGE TODAY!
Laura Orsini is an author, speaker, consultant, publisher, and creator of Fairy Positive, an antidote to the worries of the world. Find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.
8 thoughts on “You Can’t Take It with You”
Been working to declutter for a bit now. Better, but still have a way to go. Thanks for the reminder. Great to do while the weather causes me to be stuck inside.
Hi, Jennifer –
You make an excellent point about taking advantage of MUST-stay-in weather to do useful things. I was just reminding my husband, who is tackling decluttering his office today, about using a timer for 15- or 20-minute intervals. I find that is a much more motivating way for me to get to big projects than feeling bad because I didn’t finish the whole thing.
Thanks for reading and the comment!
Laura, you make a number of powerful points here. I had a sister who literally felt better with Stuff surrounding her. She had a nest with a sleeping bag and other bedding, on top of her couch. The more Stuff she had, the more piled up it was, the better she felt. I do not get it!! I find that one set of knives that look good and really do the jobs I want– results in my being able to happily give away all the spare knives. And there were many when I started. Multiplied around the house, I am using the what-do-I-really-want principle to release boxloads of Stuff weekly and create more Space. It’s amazing how much more relaxed I feel with more Space.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Hi, Kebba –
I almost mentioned in the post a colleague from my days at Lehman Brothers. Our supervisors was a gal who had studied feng shui with a original Chinese master – she was doing it when it was a cutting-edge practice and no one in the U.S. even knew what it was. I recall Jim telling us he could never get rid of the stuff on all of his surfaces because that was what made his home a home. As far as finding multiples of things around the house – when we don’t know where we put things, we spend time and money to go get new ones. I have so many pairs of scissors for this reason. As I have begun to get organized, at least they are all in one bin now. And I will pare those down sooner than later.
Thanks for reading and taking time to comment!
LikeLiked by 1 person
This was certainly timely for me. I have been on a quest to simplify my life. I have read many times that downsizing and minimizing our material things is one of the greatest ways to simplify our lives and reduce stress. I sure can use a dose of both those things. Thank you for the tips.
Hi, Lynn –
Glad you found the tips useful. Check back and let us know if you tried them and whether they worked for you – or if you found other ideas that worked better.
Happy New Year!
What a great post! My wife is always talking about minimalizing and getting rid of “Stuff” – I am guilty of having a great deal of “Stuff” which, if it were to all go away, I would miss it, and yet, life will continue on. This begs the question then, “Do I really need it?””
LikeLiked by 1 person
Yeppers – that is one of the questions. I think “Do I REALLY want it?” may be a valid one, too. Thanks for reading, Paul!