The other night I watched a couple of episodes of Hoarders on A&E. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the show, it’s a reality TV show that delves into the lives of those who hoard things. The show touches on why people hoard things, and the anguish people who hoard go through as they come to terms with unsafe and unhealthy living conditions and financial problems. It’s heartbreaking to watch.
I’ve always been a bit of a control freak when it comes to clutter. I just don’t like to have clutter around. It makes me anxious when there is too much stuff and it makes me anxious when things don’t have a place. One of the first fights I ever had with my husband was about stuff. When I tell loved ones not to get me anything for a gift, I really mean it.
Now I have three young sons and a husband who love stuff. They accumulate toys, books, magazines, and knicknacks. And while my home doesn’t look like it should be on Hoarders, I can’t help but feel my frustration level rise when stuff starts to pile up. The kids, in particular, don’t even seem to appreciate much of what they have, and have already bought into a cycle of consumerism. We can’t get through Christmas without the boys starting to obsess about what they want to put on their birthday wish lists.
For me, something needs to change.
This is not how I want to be. This is not what I want for my marriage or my children. I want our happiness to come from experiences, not things. I want our happiness to come from memories not marketplaces.
At the beginning of this year, I decided that my theme for 2014 was going to be Less is More. I’ve been making a conscious effort to clear out the clutter from our lives and to reduce the amount of clutter entering it. I still have a long way to go, but with each box that gets packed up for Goodwill, I feel like I can breathe a little easier.
I was reminded of this as I watched Graham Hill of Life Edited give a Ted Talk on the idea of Less Stuff, More Happiness. His talk inspires you to think about whether your purchases truly make you happy and reminds us that we could all stand to do a little bit of editing in our lives in order to find what is most meaningful to us. This video gets to the core of what I talk about when I bring up the idea that less is more.
Watch the video and see if you don’t find yourself nodding your head in agreement.
The thing that I have discovered as I declutter the closets and drawers in my home, is that it is okay to take some time doing this. It took us years to accumulate this stuff. It is okay to take time to go through it. I find that by breaking the process down into much shorter bites of time (anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour), I can make progress without getting overwhelmed. It also gives me time to think about the best use for things I no longer want, instead of blindly chucking things into the landfill.
My “less is more” movement is a lot about less stuff, more happiness, yes. But it is also about living life in a more intentional, kinder, less commercial way.
Matt Nelson says
When my parents finally installed their new home in 2010, they REALLY followed this philosophy! The move forced them to take inventory of ~30 years of clutter. Large dumpsters really helped with that one.
Have you started on your kids’ belongings yet? That’s the one I really struggle with. Sure, it’s easy to weed out their wardrobes each season, but what about what you said, their toys, knickknacks and COLLECTIONS??? I swear I can pick out a toy that I haven’t seen them play with in six months, throw it into an outgoing bin and within the next 24 hours I will hear, “Hey, where’s my _____?” It’s like the kids’ sixth sense or something!
Christina @ Northern Cheapskate says
I haven’t had a lot of success with the kids stuff for the EXACT reasons you mention. The other day I was threatening to remove every toy from their rooms and then tell them that if they could tell me specifically what was missing they could have it back!
The kids and I did do a toy purge about a year ago… But we have to do another one. I’m wondering if a toy rotation would work better. It just seems like the fewer toys they have the more creative they are.