Getting rid of stuff and not buying anything might seem like a daunting project, but as the house is becoming more and more decluttered, so is my mind.
Why do we acquire so much stuff? One reason for accumulating unnecessary things might be similar to the reason why we eat too much food: evolution and instinct dictate to get as much as we can when it's possible. We succumb to the temptation (and god knows temptation is everywhere, in the form of bargains, coupons and the like). But for those of us who live in abundance, it ends up being counterproductive. In fact, it can be detrimental to our health: just like eating too much food puts us at risk for a wide range of problems, owning too much stuff has been shown to have an effect on the "stress hormone", cortisol (which in turn can create all kinds of health issues).
This is why minimalism/frugality cannot simply be about being thrifty, looking for deals, buying things on sale and/or second hand, or even making them yourself. Yes, you can find nice stuff at nice prices. Yes, you can create your own stuff with your own hands and labour of love. But it's still stuff! Minimalism is about taking your distance from stuff altogether.
This is why decluttering cannot simply be about arranging things orderly on shelves or in neat boxes and cupboards. You don't need those extra storage bins. You certainly don't need a bigger house or garage or shed. What you need is less stuff. Decluttering is about actually getting rid of the things you don't need!
For more on this fascinating topic, please see the Becoming Minimalist blog, especially the post entitled Don't Just Declutter, De-Own. And share your comments below!
WEEK 4 IN REVIEW
Interestingly, I did not face too many temptations this week. I was not in stores, did not read magazines, still do not watch much TV, and managed to ignore the pop-up ads when I was online. Maybe that's the trick: out of sight, out of mind!
I do have one kid who likes stuff, and she regularly asks for this and that... but I do not yield. From all of her eight years and a half, she is beginning to understand why.
We ran out of some food items, but I have not replaced them yet:
- seeds (flax, chia and hemp)
- Dijon mustard
- protein powder (for smoothies)
Are those needs? You tell me.
Instead of stuff, I focused on pleasant experiences:
- My daughter's 11th birthday party. We kept the gifts to a minimum and instead focused on a really cool activity: wall climbing!
- A night out to celebrate (surprise party!) a friend's 40th birthday. The most pleasant part of which was simply to chat and laugh late into the night with the dozen of good friends who were there (and take a walk on the beach together the next morning).
Good riddance - the things that are in too bad a shape to even be donated:
If you're intrigued about all the water bottles, read below...
While cleaning out the kitchen cupboards, I made a scary discovery: our family owns no less than 24 water bottles... not including the small ones that fit in my runner's belt, and not including the travel mugs (of which we only have 4). We are active people who love playing sports, hiking and camping, but... isn't 24 water bottles a tad too much? In my defense, a lot of them were not purchased: we got them for participating in a variety of events. But still. We should not have kept them all. Well, that's a problem solved now.
Not shopping while here at home might not be too hard, but I just realized that I won't be able to shop when I go to Montreal next summer (or if I travel anywhere else, for that matter). For a moment, I felt disappointed. But I am aware that not shopping will probably refocus my attention on other, more interesting things. When I backpacked around Europe for a couple months after I graduated from university in 1999, I was on a frugal "student budget" (precisely $40 a day including shelter, food and transportation), and therefore did not shop whatsoever. Instead I explored the cities' streets, visited a few hand-picked museums, hiked in National Parks, and generally took the time to feel the pulse of each place I went to. I didn't need to buy anything for that. If I remember well I did not bring back any souvenir from that trip - even the photos I took were rationed as I still used 35mm film - but I did bring back tons of unforgettable memories!
What did you resist this week? Did you donate or get rid of anything? How did that make you feel? Please comment below! And...
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