How do you define yourself?
Now that you’ve answered that, answer this: how many times did your definition relate to a possession of yours?
Like most people, you spend money on certain products that send a message about yourself to other people. By having the right collection of books, people can see you are sophisticated and educated. Having designer clothes shows that you value into your appearance.
Advertisers want us to believe that by having the right possessions, fame, love and success will fall into our laps. We spend our hard-earned money trying to cultivate the right definition of ourselves, but after spending all that money, who has enough to go out and actually pursue that fame, love and success?
In retrospect, our possessions tie us down more than we realise, and they’re cluttering up our lives. Follow these four steps to start your path to a simpler, more fulfilling life.
Get rid of the clutter
Somewhere in your house, you have tools, accessories and other knick-knacks stashed away for an undisclosed day when you *might* need it. Perhaps you save items as a memento. How many playbills, stacks of old photographs or ticket stubs are cluttering up your closets and drawers?
Pull out the trash bags, boxes, whatever you need to hold all of your stuff and go through each room one at a time. Let go of your emotions and see these items for what they are: material possessions.
Go through the unofficial junk drawers and closets in your house and learn to be completely honest with yourself. Are you ever really going to learn to play Chess or do you just like how it makes you appear? If you don’t see yourself using an item within the next week, seriously consider getting rid of it.
Tackle your closet. Get rid of clothes you never wear and are never going to wear. Are you clinging to a pair of skinny jeans you might fit into one day? Do you have a shirt that is just too tight, but too cute? Donate them. They’re just taking up space and weighing you down.
For things that you find and didn’t know you had, toss them or donate them. If you didn’t know you had it, you clearly don’t need it.
Organise the rest
Now that you’ve narrowed down what you do want to keep, it’s time to give them a proper place.
If you have loose photographs lying around, either put them in an album, a photo frame or throw them out. Now that almost all photos are digital, there’s no reason to print any more that you need. Of course, many of us still have film-developed photos still lying around, snapshots of your childhood or family members who have since passed.
Keep the photos that are of good quality, organise them into photo albums and toss the rest. This alone will clear out at least a few boxes in your closet.
After you’ve gone through the clothing you own, try this trick to see just how much you actually wear. Place all clothing on hangers and hang them with the hooks facing a certain direction. After you wear a shirt or pair of pants, hang them back up and reverse the hook. This will remind you that wore the article of clothing at least once. At the end of the month, assess all of the clothing articles whose hangers are still facing the original direction. Get rid of these.
Wear a watch
Look around your house. How many clocks are there? How many of them are set to the correct time? How often are you late because you simply don’t know what time it is or you have to hunt to find a clock? Being on time will reduce your stress clutter. The worst way to start a day at work is to be late, and more often than not, we tend to lose track of time, especially in the mornings.
Now if you say you don’t need a watch because you look at your phone, you might be wasting more time than you realise. When you check the time, how often to you immediately put the phone down? Or do you look at Facebook or scroll through Instagram?
Assess how much time you lose in a day just by getting distracted while checking the time. This is time lost that you could be reading a book, writing a song or catching up with a friend. Imagine how much time you’d get back if you just wore a watch.
Consider eliminating books, television and video games
Before you say no, listen first.
A tablet, Kindle or iPad will soothe any reader’s needs. No matter where you go, you’ll take your whole library with you. It also will save a ton of space, especially if you have a cramped apartment, and let’s face it: the moving box with the books in it is a pain to move. So long as you can still read books on an electronic device, you won’t even miss the physical book.
You could probably live without your TV because any TV show you really want to see can be found on Netflix, Hulu Plus or online somewhere. So long as you have a computer, you don’t need a TV. People who channel surf end up wasting more time than they intended. Don’t worry about sports. Go watch at a sports bar if you want to catch a game.
Video games can be painful to let go of, and you could also argue that video games like Mario Kart and Halo enhance social interactions if you play them with friends, but think about how many hours of game play you sink into a game of Diablo 3 or Dark Souls. How much money do you spend on new systems, new controllers, games, XBox Live accounts? Probably enough money and time to buy a plane ticket and spend a weekend visiting a friend, really living your life.
This article is intended to show you how to live more and obsess less. Having so many possessions and obsessing over new possessions makes you lose sight of why you even bought those items. Do you have an expensive dress you bought to wear out with friends, but now you’re broke because you bought the dress? Now you can’t go out and actually live your life.
Think of what you could do with the money if you sold your DVDs, CDs, old clothes, unused appliances and everything else you don’t need. Visit friends, go to India, eat at an exclusive restaurant with your closet friends, or go see your mother an extra time this year.
Remember, you can’t take your worldly possessions to the grave. The only thing left of you will be your legacy. Don’t bury it in a mountain of materialism.