In our consumer society today, I think we often overburden ourselves with stuff. I have been guilty of buying things and more things only to find that the luxuries soon become burdens. With everything you buy comes some responsibility. Once we have made these purchases, we often have to maintain, insure, and use them to avoid guilt. In other words, what we thought was going to be a luxury that would give us a better life sometimes becomes the very thing that steals our freedom in how we spend our time and money. Over several years, I have come to realize that less is more. I believe that a simple life is a good life!
I recently took a step to simplify my life.
In 2005, I purchased a hot tub for my backyard. It was a nice tub. I enjoyed getting in for a soak in the evenings. However, it wasn’t long before it started demanding my time and attention. Granted, it doesn’t really take that much time to maintain a hot tub, but with all the other things going on it was just one more thing that would give me that twinge of guilt every time I looked out into the backyard. I would think things like:
- When was the last time we used the hot tub?
- How much did we spend on that thing?
- I should really be taking better care of it.
- It looks like the sun and wind is taking its toll on the exterior.
I felt like it was a ball and chain that I dragged around the house. This is not what I expected when I bought it. I had images of nice relaxing soaks where the jets would massage away all my troubles. It often seems that this is the way things turn out. We buy something thinking it will make us happy, when in reality, we find these are the very things that steal our joy.
Every thing you buy asks for a little piece of your time and freedom. As a result, in this case, I decided to sell the hot tub. I listed it a week ago on Craigslist and sold it yesterday. It is a relief really. Yes, a part of me is a little sad to give up the hot tub, but another part of me is overjoyed that I no longer have to worry about it. I am free! My life is simpler as a result of divesting of this so-called luxury.
From a simple life to more complex to simple again.
Most of us especially those of us in the Middle Class typically start out life with very little. We have the gift of simplicity, but we don’t usually appreciate it. Instead, we pursue what we think is the American Dream. We graduate from school, get a job, a spouse, a house, a mortgage, and 2.5 kids. We buy cars, boats, Seadoos, campers, hot tubs, motorcycles, swimming pools, and other recreational items. At least, this is what I did. I spent my 20s and 30s buying everything that I could dream up to purchase.
Eventually, I realized that all the stuff I thought was fun was actually stealing all my time and money. I started my 40s by selling a bunch of the recreational stuff that was draining my time and the enjoyment from my life. Slowly, but surely, I have reduced the things I own to reclaim control of my life. I don’t think I can get back to the simplicity I enjoyed in my 20s, but I can certainly move in that direction.
The 100 thing challenge.
In an effort to combat consumerism and pursue a simpler life, Dave Bruno has embarked on an interesting personal challenge. He is attempting to winnow down his personal belongings to just 100 things. On his blog, guynameddave.com, Dave has posted the rules to the 100 thing challenge. He also posts regular updates to his list of things as he narrows it down. I think the challenge is probably harder than first imagined. I’m sure I would be surprised if I tallied up the total number of personal items that I own. I think I’ll keep an eye on Dave’s site to see how it goes. He plans to be down to 100 things by November 12, 2008 and then to live for one full year with only those items.
Let’s review the advantages of simplifying.
There are a number of advantages to simplifying your life and reducing what we buy. Here is a summary of what I believe are some of the best reasons:
1. Less Guilt.
Having less stuff often leads to less guilt. I no longer have to feel guilty that I’m not using my stuff often enough or that I’m not maintaining it as well as I should. Stuff costs a lot of money. When I don’t use it all the time, I feel guilty that I spent so much on it. A simpler, less cluttered life means less guilt for me.
2. More free time.
Less stuff means that I have more free time to do the things that I really enjoy. This adds more meaning to my life. Instead of maintaining some possession, I get to write this blog or spend time with my family. Both of these, are more enjoyable than cleaning out my hot tub.
3. Lower cost of living.
Getting rid of things that require maintenance lowers my cost of living. A lower cost of living helps me live within my income. This means less stress and anxiety. When I owned a boat, I added up how much it cost to pay the payment, pay for storage, and pay for gas. It was astronomical and didn’t make any sense. I sold the boat.
A Simpler life really is a better life.
I am convinced that in life, less really is more. It feels good to get rid of some things. I don’t believe in living a barren existence, but simplifying can actually increase your happiness. Why be a slave to the things you own? I’m going to continue to examine my possessions and cut back where I can. I’m also going to try to avoid buying things that will only complicate my life. Do you have suggestions on how to simplify? Leave a comment and share your idea so we can all benefit.
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