How many items do you own?
Can you count them? Would it take days, maybe even weeks, to do so? Can you even count high enough to number every item?
Most of us own way too much stuff. Why? Primarily because we think these prized possessions will make us happy. The funny thing is, research says the exact opposite is true.
More stuff actually makes us less happy.
Think back to last year. Think about a material item you spent precious minutes of 2014 coveting, desiring, and longing for. A new pair of ankle boots? The iPhone 6? A fancy Vitamix blender? You likely thought, “If I can just have item X, my life will be better/easier/happier.” And once you obtained item X, your life probably did feel better/easier/happier… momentarily. Now think about your current feelings toward item X. By now, you’ve probably adapted to owning the once-coveted item, and you are now coveting a NEW item that you believe will make your current life better/easier/happier. And so it goes…
This is how we ended up with too much stuff. Did you know our first dates were weekly shopping excursions? True story. Every week, there was a new item X to desire…
As I talked about in my Less, But Better article for LARABAR, James and I decided to opt out of the culture of excess during the course of planning our wedding (because nothing says “excess” quite like a modern wedding). Not only did we drastically pare down our wedding (compared to the “norm”), we also pared down the rest of our life- purging nearly half our belongings, getting rid of time commitments that weren’t making us happy, and challenging the motives behind every desire to acquire.
A few takeaways from our journey toward minimalism:
It’s not a new possession that makes you feel good, it’s the brief absence of wanting that makes you feel good.
This myth explains why you might find yourself shopping online the day after you purchase a coveted item. If you believe your happiness stems from inanimate objects, you will most certainly be unhappy. The truth is, we already possess everything we need to be happy. Lasting happiness stems from inside us, not from the outside world.
Letting go feels incredible.
The moment you detach from something you thought you couldn’t live without and realize you are still happy and whole without it will be one of the most liberating moments of your life. Rooted in insecurities, we often wrap our identity in our possessions. You are not your stuff. Your stuff is not you. Get rid of it.
Simplify your possessions to those which are truly functional and those which truly spark joy.
A toothbrush is functional. A beautiful coffee table book may spark joy. However, those shoes that pinch your feet and sit forgotten in the back of your closet? Neither functional nor joyful. Let them go.
Minimalism is a practice, and we are still practicing. We ditched our television, but our closet could be mistaken for a JCrew retail store and on most every surface in our house you’ll find a book or three. These are things that spark joy for us- not lasting, sustainable happiness, but the fleeting joy of playing with prints and textures or re-visiting notes in the margins of a good read. For you maybe five shirts will do, but you get fleeting joy from your really rad vinyl collection. Make minimalism work for your life. And, most of all, start tapping in to the real happiness you already possess. It’s in there, we promise. No iPhone 6 required.
We challenge you to take a lap around your house right now and find 5 things you can let go of. Post a photo of your 5 things using the hashtag #planteatersmanifesto. Choose to opt out of the culture of excess with us!