Since we haven’t decided for sure what we’re doing yet, I’ve been moving forward as if we have already decided, which means I’ve been getting rid of a large majority of our possessions.
I’m now on a first-name basis with the volunteers at the Salvation Army, and the ladies at the library are now all intimately familiar with my grand plans of living in a small shipping container home.
Yes, I’ve been donating like a mad woman.
As I’ve been clearing out our stuff, however, something really has begun to hit me: we don’t need that much to be happy.
I mean, we didn’t have that much to begin with, and now we have even less. And you know what? The more stuff I get rid of, the more fulfilled I feel on the inside. I don’t miss it at all.
It’s almost like an opposite reaction. Instead of feeling loss and sadness as my “stuff” disappears, I feel liberated. Instead of regretting “all that wasted money”, I feel happy that someone else is going to use it.
So, here are three lessons I’ve learned this week as I’ve started making strides to live the simple life:
1. Space is beautiful
I took a whole carload of stuff to the Salvation Army just from our living room this week; furniture, books, throws…lots of things. Now, the room is much emptier than it used to be. And, it’s fabulous.
Again, it wasn’t cluttered before this week, but now that there’s more space it just feels more open and creative in there. I can breathe. And, I can see the room better. I couldn’t before, because that “stuff” was blocking my view.
The room sings now. It’s beautiful and strong, and there’s not a ton of stuff that’s hiding the lines of the room. I can see its character now.
Your own home might be hidden under piles of “things” right now. You might be surprised to find out that the more you get rid of, the more beautiful your home becomes. Its true character might start to shine through.
2. There Are Only A Few Things I Really Care About
I’ve been going through the house this week asking, “Would I take this to my shipping container home?”
Most of the time, that answer is “no”.
The more stuff I donate and pass on to others, the more I realize how special the things I have left are. These things, the things I’m keeping, are truly close to my heart. They’re inherently useful, they make me happy, or they beautify my life in some way.
I’ve been keeping this wonderful quote in my mind as I’ve gone through decluttering:
“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”
3. I No Longer Care About “Losing Money” On Past Purchases
I think this is a hangup for many, many people. It’s when you want to get rid of that mohair sweater, but can’t bring yourself to donate it because “you spent too much money on it”.
There was a time, not too long ago, when I was hung up on this too.
“Oh, I can’t get rid of that,” I’d think. “I spent good money on it. It was expensive.”
Well, so what? Just because you spent money on something in the past has nothing to do with what’s going on in your life right now.
That money, like it or not, is gone. Forever.
Right now, I’m trying to pare down our things so if we decide to move, we’re ready to go. That’s what’s truly important right now; that’s our goal. Holding on to something that I spent money on last week, last month, or last year won’t help me reach that goal.
This realization didn’t happen overnight, though.
How did I get there? I finally made myself get rid of something expensive (the item in question happened to be a $100 Venta humidifier, which I bought last winter).
Once I finally let that first thing go, it was all downhill from there. I was able to get rid of other “pricey” items that I’d been unwittingly holding onto all this time. And, I’ve still got more to go, but I’m on my way.
If you’re facing that same reluctance, then just start with one thing. Give away one expensive item to charity, and then see how you feel. If you’re anything like me, that one thing will help break down that wall of reluctance you’re feeling and enable you to let more go.
After all, your stuff is just that: stuff. Its only real value is what you place on it. And if that thing isn’t giving you anything of value, then it’s worthless.
Decluttering to simplify your life is not always an easy process. But, it’s a worthwhile one. The more I do it, the better I feel.
For instance, I’m feeling less and less weighed down by my things. It’s a wonderful, uplifting feeling. I really enjoy getting rid of stuff now, and although I still have a long way to go to get us to “shipping container ready mode”, I’m not dreading the process. This journey is just as valuable as the end destination for me. Maybe, even more so.