less stuff = less stress

Most of us have more stress than we’d like in our lives.  Certainly not all of it is in our control, but we have more control than we tend to believe.

I’ve noticed more and more how much stress is somehow about our stuff.  We need to make money to buy it.  We spend time to shop for it.  We buy a bigger house to keep it all in.  We need more money to pay for the house.  We need to buy more stuff to keep the stuff in and on.  We need more money to buy the organizers.  We need to clean the stuff and clean around it.  We want more money to get more stuff.  We get upset when it goes missing or gets messed up (see: fender bender or any interaction with young children).  We need to clean it up when it’s not in place.  We have to work more hours or keep a job we hate to make sure we can keep up with everything we have acquired (house, phone cars, etc.) or want to maintain.  We might “need” more stuff to go with what we have.  We might “need” to upgrade.  Many assume credit card or other debt to do it.  It spirals up.

Think for a moment or two how many of your daily stressor’s have to do with stuff.

How much easier would it be to dust the house if there were fewer (or no) things on flat surfaces?  Or fewer flat surfaces?

How much more time would you have if you had less tidying to do?

How much less stress would you have if it was OK if things got dirty, broke, or went missing?

I took on a cleaning-out campaign that I’ve been on off-and-on since last summer.  I cleaned out the the bedroom and my closet.  I cleaned out our home office (no small task!).  I cleaned out the kitchen cabinets.  We still have way too much stuff, but there is a lot less, and it feels good.  (I didn’t get rid of anything that was my husband’s or was jointly ours without running it by him.)  I thought it would feel bare, but instead, it feels like, “Ahhhhhhhhh.”

We stopped buying so much stuff.  I think this is key.  No matter how much you take out, if you constantly replenish it, you maintain status quo.  Our new budget also made this much easier.  (Watching TV and reading magazines tends to make us feel like we want or need more because of advertising.)

This didn’t all happen at once, but it is all bearing fruit.  My life is a bit less complicated and a bit less cluttered than it was.  I am still working on it, but the peace that it has brought has led me to want to do it more.  It feeds itself.

I know of people with kids who have done similar things and were able to get the kids on board.  The whole family cleaned out their stuff and has taken on a “less is more” way of life.  A few toys suffice.  The library provides books and movies.  Not a coincidence that less stuff also equal spending less money which makes money less likely to be a stressor.

Does this appeal to you?  Is there something you can do this week to simplify just a little bit?

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