JUST MORE STUFF
I recently read the NYTimes article “Living with Less” by Graham Hill and it struck such a chord with me. It’s crazy how easy it is to accumulate so much stuff, not all of it necessary, so much of it soon to be crap. I don’t consider myself a big spender and by that I mean I rarely, if ever buy big ticket items, designer stuff etc. However, I am a sucker for a good deal. Unfortunately, it’s really easy how quickly you can have too much of a deal. Even the 99cents store can become a thing.
So that’s me on one hand. On the other hand, I
hate abhor clutter and things. I hate being surrounded by too many things, especially in NYC which feels tight and a battle for space all the time. In our homes, offices, on the street, in trains, buses, so on and so forth. I try to do little things like clothing swaps, give up things I may have once loved, the semi-annual Salvation army run.
Which brings me to this. There seem to be 2 schools if I had to simplify. Those who keep everything (hoarders and I don’t mean at the level of the TV show). Their reasons are many and well meaning and include everything from: “I might need it; Someone else down the road may find it useful; I don’t like waste; I paid so much for it, so I should keep it; there’s sentimental value and I can’t let go etc etc…) Then there’s the other group (the purgers): they usually don’t like clutter, they get bored and tired quick of things, they like change and new shiny stuff, they tell themselves I’ve enjoyed it enough, it’s all good as long as they got a buck for it when they sold it on Ebay (yeah but you paid $50), or someone at Salvation was able to benefit from it.
The challenge for both groups, is finding that balance between wanting, buying, and keeping STUFF. Constantly doing math about free space under one’s bed, purchasing space bags, storing stuff at mum’s might be an indication of too much stuff. Always purging, swapping and stoop sales, might also be an indication of too much.
I guess I’m not really offering solutions or saying I figured it all out. I’m just pointing out that I know there are areas of my life where I could be better and I have to make an effort. I have 10 pairs of jeans but I only really wear 2. I love books and used to read all the time, so I bought so many books from bargain bookstores (patting myself on the back cos they were under $1) and filled up my bookshelves. It made me feel happy and good. And now I sit here staring at them. cos while they make for OK decor, I don’t know the last time I cracked open any of them, with Kindles and iPads, I don’t even know when next I would. Should I purge myself of them too? Am I just filling up space?
I’m not one to tell people to limit themselves to only what they NEED. Needs are always a first but I think its really important, especially if you’ve done your numbers, to get things you love and to make room for them. Be it that guitar, that bag, that perfume, that table, upgrading that old sofa, those things bring what I call little “happies“. That shouldn’t be considered shallow or materialistic. But when you’re surrounded by so much noise, by so many things, can you really appreciate any of them. I thought I wanted the other 8 pairs of jeans, but I am in reality living without them, I just have them taking up space. I might purge and get new ones OR I might store them in a space bag.
All I got right now are tricks. I’ve tried tricks like waiting for weeks to see if I still want something; I have weekly, monthly shopping freezes (I cheat); I resell when possible; I ask myself if this wasn’t on clearance, would I buy it? Those little tricks help but definitely aren’t a solution. Cos as the saying goes, prevention is better than cure.
So, I’m asking you guys: How do you make sure (tricks included), that you only purchase what matters, what gives you real “happies”, so that you don’t end up with JUST MORE STUFF?
Also read below some interesting excerpts from the article:
“Our fondness for stuff affects almost every aspect of our lives. Housing size, for example, has ballooned in the last 60 years. The average size of a new American home in 1950 was 983 square feet; by 2011, the average new home was 2,480 square feet. And those figures don’t provide a full picture. In 1950, an average of 3.37 people lived in each American home; in 2011, that number had shrunk to 2.6 people. This means that we take up more than three times the amount of space per capita than we did 60 years ago.”
“I like material things as much as anyone. I studied product design in school. I’m into gadgets, clothing and all kinds of things. But my experiences show that after a certain point, material objects have a tendency to crowd out the emotional needs they are meant to support.”