Is your stuff making you unhappy?

The popularity of sites like Zen Habits and The Minimalists proves that minimalism is striking a chord with people. I am not a regular reader of these sites, so I don’t know all the nuances of their messages, but The Minimalists sum it up as:

Minimalism is a tool used to rid yourself of life’s excess in favor of focusing on what’s important so you can find happiness, fulfillment, and freedom.”

American consumer culture makes it easy to define ourselves and our worth by what we have, but minimalism is its counter movement, and it’s catching on.

The concept of minimalism embodies much more than getting rid of physical possessions, and it’s a misconception that to live minimally means giving up everything you own.

Since I’m not a minimalist expert, and this is only one blog post, paring down physical possessions seemed like a good place to focus this time. Hopefully this post will set the stage for what I really want to write about, which I will share next week.

minimalist closet
A closet this tiny makes minimalism easier. I’ve since organized the shoe mess :)

My mom is a professional organizer. She helps people purge the excess from their lives and create systems to stay organized, and to keep clutter from taking over.

While professional organizing seems like a luxury, some of the people my mom works with need professional help. Their stuff and their inability to manage or get rid of it becomes emotionally draining. I’m amazed by the heart issues that come up while Mom is elbow deep in Tupperware.

It’s easy to acquire stuff that ends up owning us, at the expense of our happiness, fulfillment and freedom.

Some of our stuff contributes to happiness and fulfillment, while other stuff serves as a distraction or downright obstacle to our happiness.

I mean the jeans you hope might fit again, the ones that mock you every time you open the dresser drawer. 

I mean the gift from a family member that reminds you of the tangled mess of the relationship or the emotional distance that seems too far to overcome. 

I mean the house whose payments are swallowing you, keeping you up at night, full of fear and shame.

Clearing out some physical junk can help resolve the emotional junk, too.

Question: Have you ever gotten rid of something that you felt so much happier without?

4 thoughts on “Is your stuff making you unhappy?

  1. This post totally resonates with me as we renovate our girls’ rooms and the house is insane. So much stuff and it definitely does not make us happier! I wish your mom was close and I think I’d hire her!

    1. Maybe it will be a good time to purge while everything’s in upheaval anyway :) My mom started her business not long after they’d undergone a big renovation project. Your comment makes me wonder if her business idea was related to the chaos and mess associated with renovating.

  2. Every time we move, I am reminded of the amount of junk that we own, and how much we need to get rid of. I enjoy the freedom I feel whenever I get rid of excess.

    1. Yes! When we moved to South Carolina, we got rid of a lot of stuff that was useful or nice but just wasn’t worth paying to move across the country. Moving really does help prioritize what’s important.

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