I smiled when I heard the author Amanda Prowse on TV recently, having been asked if it were true that all her possessions could fit into a carry-on suitcase, reply:
“… all of my possessions can fit into a 2.5 litre plastic box.”
As if this weren’t impressive enough, she then went on to say that when she travels anywhere she takes only 3 outfits with her:
“… one in the wash, one to wear and one spare …”
I’ve touched on this subject before in terms of whether most of us accumulate more possessions than we need – see my blogs:
- How Much ‘Stuff’ is Enough? The Naked Truth!
- Simply Enough
- Artistic Comments on ‘Enough’
- The Paradox of Our Age
And I think most of us do. I certainly have, and it’s part of my ongoing process to de-clutter and reduce the amount of stuff I own or which ‘owns me’ as, looking after what I do have, takes up time, energy, attention and money – some of which could possibly be utilised elsewhere.
Simplicity is such an overlooked and underrated quality in today’s frenetic, complex world. I think we still tend to measure success and status (our own as well as other people’s) according to the ‘trappings’ that we think go with them – bigger houses, expensive cars, designer clothes and accessories, the latest gadgets, and so on.
The ‘this might come in handy one day’ mindset doesn’t help us, either – driving us to hoard things we no longer use and which might actually be of more benefit to someone else. Giving things away to a charity shop or via online ‘free cycle’ sites can solve this – or we could sell them.
I have friends who’ve managed to de-clutter, and who regularly review what they have and what they need – and I’m learning from their example.
I’m also noticing a more general trend to reverse the desire many of us seem to have to own everything we use.
For those who don’t need or use them every day, shared cycle schemes such as London’s ‘Boris bikes‘ where we can hire a cycle just for one short trip are starting to gain popularity around the UK – one was launched in my town, Worthing, earlier this year
Just down the road from here, Brighton has taken this a stage further and is also actively encouraging car clubs , car shares and liftshares.
Taking this one stage further, do we all really need to own our own lawnmower or could we share one with friends, family or neighbours, perhaps? Some people do, and it can work really well – and can also extend to other equipment and tools we don’t use very often.
And then there’s the ‘stuff ‘versus ‘time’ debate…
A recent study reported that buying ourselves time actually brings us more happiness than buying material goods.
So, rather than buying more stuff we might benefit more from spending the same amount paying someone else to mow our lawn or clean our car to give us time to do things we actually enjoy.
To quote Professor Dunn who worked on the study with colleagues at Harvard Business School, Maastricht University and Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam:
“Money can in fact buy time. And it buys time pretty effectively ,..
and so my take home message is,
‘think about it, is there something you hate doing that fills you with dread
and could you pay somebody else to do that for you?’
If so, then science says that’s a pretty good use of money.”
Worth considering … ?