Letting go of ‘Might Use”

Minimalism
Today, I went through five boxes of things that I “might use.”  As I was going through the boxes I would put things aside with the justification of, “I actually might use this.”  After a few minutes I would pick them up again and put them back down.  I did this about four times.  When I was throwing out my last trash bag I picked up the “actually might use” items and put them in the trash bag.  I was done debating.

One of my “actually might use” stacks were my songwriting notebooks that I’ve had for about 12 years.  I’ve written a lot of songs in them, but they were just sitting in a box.  What did I need them for?  Nostalgia?

I made a decision that “might use” wasn’t enough for me to hold onto anything.  It wasn’t enough to change my happiness with or without.  Thus, everything was thrown into the trash.  The best part?  I feel great about it and have no regret not keeping anything.

I was able to flatten five boxes and fill up four 30 gallon trash bags for the trash.  I will never have to think about all that stuff again.  It’s gone.  And guess what?  My happiness remains even though I let go of “might use.”

You’re valuable, your things are not.

Minimalism

I found myself looking around telling myself how I wanted this, I wanted that.  I liked the idea of ‘having’ everything I looked at.  I could have bought a few items today and I decided not to.  Not because I wouldn’t use them, but because I knew I didn’t need them and I knew they weren’t going to provide any value to my life.  My happiness wouldn’t change from having them. 

Consumerism consumes us in ways that overshadows the reality of what we’re doing.  What we’re doing is buying and buying not because of necessity or purpose, but because it’s what we’ve been taught to do.  

Our possessions become a part of us.  The things we have identify the type of people we are.  We put a monetary value in what we have and try to place that value on ourself.  You may have a brand new Corvette and that one object in your eyes puts a number on your life.  I’m worth this.  I’m worth that.  

We’ve all heard the saying, “To feel like a million dollars.”  I’ve never had a million dollars nor will I probably ever own that much money at one time.  Most of the world will never know that feeling so how do we begin to compare a price with feeling?  Are millionaires even happy?  

This rich and famous culture changes our perception on how we should live and feel.  We want what they have because they ‘look’ happy.  Media portrays people in the ‘good light’ and we rarely see inside the actual feelings of the rich and famous.  Social media provides many filters in the lives of people.  We can filter our life to look how we want others to see it, but behind the cell phone and behind the computer how do you really feel?  Is that happiness because of the items in your house or because you have made a decision to be happy with who you are and not what you have or don’t have?

I’m reminded of the quote from Jim Cary that I heard from Minimalism: A Documentary about the Important Things. 

“I wish everyone could experience being rich and famous so they could realize it’s not the answer.” 

What is your goal when buying new things?  Do you buy things just because you can and have they money to do it?  Do you replace the old item with the new item?  Do you find true non-monetary value in the items you buy?  Do they make you happy?  Do they increase YOUR value because of the price tag?  

You’re valuable, your things are not.  Your things serve a purpose, but things were never created to specifically provide happiness.  They’re created to fill a need.  A use.  A tool.  A resource.  I love coffee, but just because I like the taste or how it gives me a boost doesn’t mean that if I never had it again I’d be unhappy.  I’m valuable because of who I am, not what I have.  You’re valuable because of who you are, not what you have.  Though, there are some unique items that do become a part of us and do impact who we are, not every item provides us with that type of worth.  Know what does and what doesn’t. 

Why Minimalism?

Minimalism

Many people have asked me why I’m becoming a minimalist.  My main answer to that is that I’m not becoming one, I’m going back to being one.  I used to live minimal when I was college.  I just didn’t know it was called minimalism.  I didn’t buy anything I didn’t need or anything that didn’t provide a purpose and I could carry everything I owned in both my hands.  I enjoyed having less.  It made mobility much simpler and I feel life wasn’t cluttered by things.

After understanding a bit more about minimalism I’ve concluded that the things I have in my life don’t provide the value that I thought.  All the DVDs, the clothes, etc…the possessions don’t give me happiness as I’ve been led to believe.  

The people in my life give me happiness.  The moments we spend together give me happiness.  I value their time and their company.  For the items that I am keeping have a value in them.  I love books because I love knowledge.  I reference them and I like being able to hold them in my hands versus digital copy.  I can find purpose in every item I have and not just because the items can be used in a basic way, but they provide a value to my passions.  Everything I own leads back to my passions. 

Minimalism isn’t about getting rid of everything I own.  It’s about getting rid of things that I believe don’t provide value to my way of living or my passions.  Just because you use something doesn’t mean it’s valuable.  It just means you use it.  Some things help your daily life, but not everything needs to be kept.  There are things like a lawn mower, fire extinguisher, cleaning supplies that you will need to keep because well, they’re pretty important items when you have a house or apartment(except maybe not the mower).  Many people become minimalists for different reasons.  Here is why I want to go back to being one. 

Things should serve a need for what’s most important to you.  I feel a lot of the things I have bought serve no purpose in my daily routine.  I want every item that I own to serve a need and purpose to the things I do.  My guitar serves a purpose.  I love songwriting so that is something I will keep because it’s one of my passions.  I have journals that are unused.  I use them as needed and the serve my need to write things down.  I like writing versus taking digital notes so it adds value to my life.  The funkopops (bobble heads) that I have serve no purpose other than a collectable item so I will get rid of them.  These are just a few examples.  Minimalism wakes you up the things that are most important. 

Mobility is so much better when you own less.  This is our 2nd move in under 3 years and it’s a pain unpacking boxes of things that really have no need to be unpacked.  After 4 years in our first house we still had boxes unpacked.  How crazy is that?  Four years and we didn’t need anything in the boxes so why did we have them in the first place?  Like I’ve mentioned before we have a room full of boxes that we haven’t needed after nine months of being in our new house.  For our next move we should be able to move ourselves rather than have movers move us.  We will move again within the next 2 years.  The less we have the easier the move.  We’re only in temporary houses until I get closer to retirement.  What’s the point of accumulating so many ‘things’ when we’re not even really ‘home,’ yet?

Imagine if you only bought things that served a permanent need rather than a temporary use?  How much money do you think you’d save?  If I were to add up all of the things I didn’t need or use in our house I’m sure the price value would be higher than I’d like.  Which means all of that money is sitting around for no reason.  That sort of blows my mind.  Why would I put money into something and not really use it?  If I continue to live on the philosophy of only buying needful items I will save money.  It’s a certainty.  It would be nice to save up and actually be able to buy a house later or take an awesome vacation.  Think of it as an investment.  Saving money is always an investment. This allows me to do so with strategic spending in mind. 

Don’t you just love having space in your house?  Getting rid of the excess items will help increase space.  The less you have the easier it is to clean and also keep it clean.  Think about the items you have in your living room.  How often do you use them?  Do you just use them a few times a month?  Daily?  Think about how you could go without them and see if it changes the value of you having them.  We had to specifically make a DVD rack just to hold DVDs.  Or we could have just got rid of them and saved the corner space in our living room.  I would make the room look bigger and probably a bit neater too.  I keep a lot of old track medals and awards and although they are an important time in my life they don’t really do anything for me now.  They sit in a box collecting dust.  Some people may like having side tables, coffee tables, more chairs than people and that’s fine.  If they provide value to you daily life then keep them.  If not, ask yourself if your happiness would change if you got rid of them.  

I hope this gave you an idea on why I’m choosing to go back to being a minimalist.  You may see it differently than I do and I hope you see the value in it.  I hope you are able to increase the value in the things that matter most to you.