Decisions on Stuff

Somewhere in the trails of my past are evidence for countless decisions. Every time I did something, it left a mark on me either, phsyically, mentally, emotionally, or monetarily. These decisions culminate in the day to day of who I am as a person. A choice I make every day is to not fill my life with stuff.

Currently, I am attempting to embrace minimalism with as much gusto as I can muster. Going through a serious life-changing event has a way of shifting priorities and catalyzing certain behaviors. For every person, the reaction is different. None are necessarily right or wrong and I’m here to offer no judgment on others. I ask no judgment from you.

Essentially, minimlism is the philosophy that you can live a meaningful life with less crap. A lot less crap. Less than you think. People have lived, and currently still do, with fewer than 100 things (some even fewer than 50). It’s not the things you own that make your life, it’s the things you do and who you do them with that make your life.

In trying to embrace the best I can, I am purging the excesses of my previous lifestyle. When I moved back into my place, there wasn’t much left. I had no dishes, very little furniture and the walls were bear. It was depressing to witness. But I had a choice to make. I either can have remorse over the objects that are no longer in my life, or I can move forward and find meaning in more valuable ways.

This is a decision I make every day. The things we own, the pictures, furniture, toys, movies… everything does not intrinsically have value. Certainly people value certain items more than others, and we ascribe value to things that are rare, but somebody who had no knowledge of this informaiton would not know just by looking at something that it had value.

People do intrinsically have value. It’s a part of every persons being. They have value, and they are valued. Family, friends, coworkers, and strangers, they all mean something and they are all worth something. I realized this and made a switch in my mind.

Now, I have decided to value people more than stuff. I value shared experiences more than solo ones. The conversations I have, the memories I make, and the stories that are shared are more meaningful than anything I could ever buy.

Ever since I committed to this way of life, and truly embraced it, I have felt more at peace with the people and things around me. Everything I own, and I do mean everything, could be lost and I would be ok. That’s only possible when your value system is based on people and not on things.

So yes, I’m getting rid of my Star Wars Collectibles (okay, they’re toys), my golf clubs, my Xbox, and eventually my car. Removing these distractions allows me to make meaningful connections with real people. I’d take great conversation over more stuff any day.

What are your experiences with minimalism? Are you trying to get rid of something but can’t seem to do it?

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4 Responses to Decisions on Stuff

  1. Beth February 22, 2012 at 1:26 pm #

    I’m fascinated with the idea of you eventually giving up your car too. What made you decide this? You’re right about stuff. It’s replaceable, it doesn’t have intrinsic value to who we are. And yet, the thought of my brand new 27″ iMac burning in a fire or not being able to drive around is crippling. The concept of minimalism is simultaneously tantalizing and terrifying.

    • Taylor February 22, 2012 at 9:52 pm #

      My car is such a money pit. I got it as a gift when I graduated and, since I wasn’t paying, I picked out something expensive to maintain. It takes premium gas, it has 17″ tires, and insurance on it isn’t cheap. So part of it is motivated by money.

      There’s a few other reasons too. First, I want to see if I can live without a car. It’s a challenge and I think it’ll help me grow. I’ll be testing this at some point in the coming months. This goes along with minimalism and trying to be more environmentally conscious. Second, I’m considering doing some traveling after graduation, and the equity in my car would be useful as cash. I’m not saying I’ll never have a car again, or that I won’t buy a cheaper, more efficient car when I sell this one. But I think placing myself in a difficult situation will be a catalyst for, hopefully, surprising growth.

      If all my stuff did go up in a fire, there would be a sense of loss. A lot of money would be gone down the drain. But that’s why we have insurance too. Things can get replaced. People can’t. Some of the things I’m trying to do are 10% tantalizing and 90% terrifying. But that tells me I’m on the right path and that it’s probably something I should be doing. I’m focusing on the tantalizing part and trying to ignore the crippling fear I sometimes experience. We’ll see how it goes 🙂

  2. Susanna Dvash February 22, 2012 at 6:45 pm #

    I’m not a minimalist, but I like the idea of having a crisp, clean, uncluttered look. My husband doesn’t like to throw anything away. It’s a frustrating challenge to our marriage. But, soon, we’ll be moving to the US from Israel and most of the things he thinks he can’t part with will have to stay behind in boxes (soon to be forgotten), given away or thrown away. I hope he’s willing to start living with less. The piles at our house would disgust you. It’s very difficult to work in that kind of environment. I love sitting in a clean, tidy room without clutter. It gives me absolute peace of mine.

    • Taylor February 22, 2012 at 9:56 pm #

      It sounds like you’re a minimalist at heart. I’m a big fan of theminimalists.com. One point they stressed is that there is no ‘standard’ for minimalism. It really can be whatever you define it as. For me, it’s idea of appreciating people over things and living a full life with less. I’m in the process of whittling down everything I can to the bare minimum to clear out distractions and clutter. I’ll add things if appropriate, but I won’t do things like I unconsciously used to.

      I wish you the best of luck in your marriage. convincing a spouse to embrace minimalism can be difficult. Just start by working on your own stuff first and show him how happy you can be without stuff. Hopefully he’ll start to come to your side with a little prodding. Thanks for the comment!

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