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My Hiatus from Stuff

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I have too much stuff.

Even aware of the fact and consciously making an effort to reduce, I still come home with shopping bags. (Target is my weakness… I go in for toothpaste, and leave with 3 bags of ???). And I’m probably not any happier for it; study after study shows that it’s the experiences, not the accumulation, that lead to a happy life. So unless that purchase is absolutely necessary for the experience of a lifetime, I need to step away from the cash register.

Exhibit A: I’m considering getting a roommate, and the biggest impediment to putting the ad on Craigslist is that I would have to find a home for everything that lives in my guest room. I’m making decisions based on my stuff. I’m fairly sure that changing your life to fit your addiction is a red flag in most 12-step programs.

So, inspired by these musings and this short movie, I’ve decided I’m not buying any more stuff for at least a month. That’s 30 days of paying only for consumables and experiences – food and gas and the like. Because, whatever it is, I probably don’t really need one. I’m hoping this is a fairly easy habit to break, and that it goes long beyond 30 days. I’ll keep you posted. It the meantime, check out www.storyofstuff.com. I’m not saying she gets it all right, but it’s funny, and worth a listen.

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2 responses »

  1. This is what I do every Lent. 40 days of no fun purchase, so no clothes, no music, etc. I stick to groceries and toiletries and can make exceptions for gifts (my brother’s birthday usually falls in Lent), since I’m not keeping the item.

    I’ve done it for 3 Lents now. The first year was really hard. This year was easy. The best part is that it makes me stop and think about what I’m buying (most of the time), for the rest of the year. I started it as more as giving up spending, but I really enjoy the aspect of not bringing new crap into my house.

    (P.S.) Natalie told me about your blog — great idea!)

  2. Yesterday I attended a discussion about simplicity as a biblical virtue. The basic concept of the session was that what you own should not own you and that how you spend your money is a pretty good guide about what is important to you. There seems to be a link suggesting that the less stuff we have, the more open we will be to those happiness-generating experiences when the come along.
    One of the ideas given during the session was to make a list of 100 things you can not live without. If you had to move tomorrow and could only take 100 things, what would they be? I have started a list and it looks like my cell phone, planner, and blue jeans are pretty important to me.

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