Do you own your possessions, or do your possessions own you?
The “stuff” in your life is one of the most outward signs of how simple your life is. Living in a home full of clutter illustrates that the state of your life is “not simple.” And vice-versa, a clean home or office can create a space for peace and happiness.
I actively try to embrace minimalism and keep my possessions simplified. Not having to purchase, maintain, then later discard possessions is a great way to save my energy and money in life for things that are more important.
Two reasons to own something:
There really only should be two reasons that you own a possession: If you need it, or if you enjoy it. Any other reason beyond that is a recipe for clutter in your life.
- You need it. There are many things in life you own because you need them. A toothbrush does not necessarily bring me happiness, but it’s an important tool to own for good dental health. And because having good oral hygiene is important to me, it’s a necessary product to have in my home.
- You enjoy it. If you don’t need something, another good reason to own it is because it brings you happiness. The sound system I have in my living room is not necessary for my day-to-day life, but I enjoy listening to music on a quality speaker.
Reasons like “you might need it some day”, or “you feel guilty getting rid of it”, are not good qualifiers for keeping or purchasing something.
Understanding what you need and what you enjoy is an exploration into your own personal values and beliefs. What you need is unique to you, what you enjoy is unique to you. Just make sure you know what those are.
5 Ways to Simplify Your Possessions
If you’ve already accumulated a lot of stuff in your life, you now need to go back and reduce the clutter. Thankfully, with the right mindset and a little discipline, going back and simplifying your possessions can be a positive experience.
- Do one area at a time, to completion. – Start simplifying your stuff by doing one room or area at a time. By going through all of the same type of item, like clothing for example, you are able to stay focused on what you need and enjoy for that type of item. Don’t stop simplifying in that area until you are complete.
- 80/20 Everything – I’ve written many times before on the 80/20 principle, which states that you usually only use about 20% of your stuff. The key in simplifying your possessions is to understand what 80% of your items rarely get used. Apply the 80/20 principle to your stuff and you’ll find you can discard a majority of items.
- “Does it Spark Joy?” – Those familiar with the Konmari Method of organizing will recognize the “spark joy” question – which basically is asking if you like something or not. If you pick up an item and it does not bring you joy, then why is it in your home?
- Make Room For Peace – The space around you is a reflection of your life. Remember as you are simplifying that you are trying to make room for peace and happiness. By removing clutter, and actively keeping things that bring your enjoyment, you can build an environment that improves your life.
- Stop Buying More – After the simplifying work is done, it’s time to work on your mindset. You need to stop buying shit you don’t need. It’s far easier (and less expensive) to maintain a simple home than it is to buy more then simplify over again.