How do you achieve simplicity when surrounded by excess?

We have a lot of ‘stuff’. Stuff we use, stuff we don’t use, stuff we like, stuff we hate. Stuff. It’s all around us, all the time.

There is a ‘minimalist’ movement going on. Basically, you get rid of everything bar the absolute essentials. And I mean, everything. People get rid of cars, furniture, clothes – all in an effort to simplify their lives and reap the benefits of ‘minimalist’ living.

I, personally, have too much of this stuff. We have doubles of some things, like coffee machines, mobile phones, couches even. Far too much for a family of four.

But. This year, we have had great opportunities to share our ‘stuff’. When a friend’s whole electrical circuit blew in her house and every single appliance was ruined, we were able to help. We gave her a microwave, a jug, a phone, a TV – all spares that we had lying around from when we shifted our office to home and no longer needed them.

Now, I’m not relaying this to big note ourselves, far from it. There are plenty of people who give in greater capacity than us. My point is that if we hadn’t had those things, we wouldn’t have been able to help out when our friend needed it.

There is no way this friend would have accepted money, or if we had gone and bought new items to replace hers. Having these things in our house, doing nothing, allowed her the freedom to accept our help.

So, for me, it’s not about how much stuff we have at all, it’s about what we do with it.

Do we hold onto our possessions tightly, unable to part with anything? Or do we hold it all loosely, ready to freely give at any given moment?

I think it’s possible to live a minimalist life and aim for simplicity while still having stuff. It’s all about our mindset.

Besides, if we gave up the car, how would I get my coffee each day? πŸ™‚

 

7 thoughts on “How do you achieve simplicity when surrounded by excess?

  1. I started to go minimalist numerous years ago. First it was moving into an RV, we put a lot of stuff in storage. Then (after the divorce which may have had something to do with living in an RV!), I got rid of more stuff – stuff I’d been moving from apartment to apartment, to condo, to another state. I was just sick of moving so much. Now, I’ve been devastated by a flood and I realize what was most important to me 1) the safety of myself and my family and others 2) my books and research. I pretty much left the rest behind! Even though I lost many things that meant a lot, I still have the memories. And now I can start fresh!

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    • Yes, we will always have the memories πŸ™‚ I always think that at least once a year we should have the big sort of clean out we only have when we are getting ready to move house. It would sure eliminate a lot of stuff! Although, like I said, I am happy to have it, if I can share it πŸ™‚

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  2. Yes, yes. If I could go back and change anything, I would live simply and travel light from the beginning. Visiting a wealthy friend in San Francisco, I commented about the view of the Golden Gate Bridge from his penthouse, and he said “yes, but the homeless people in the park have the same view! “.

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  3. This totally brought back the George Carlin route for me. If you haven’t ever heard it, take a minute. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MvgN5gCuLac Eight years ago, we moved to our little cottage near the shore. We had to parse our stuff. There was no room for it all. Gave much of it away to relatives, etc. We still have a lovely framed sign with the word ‘Simplify’ on it, and each of our license plates is a version of the word ‘simplify’ as well. It feels good, being out of the rat race. I rarely worry over possessions any more. But don’t get me wrong: I do have a 48 inch flatscreen. πŸ˜‰

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    • The clip won’t load atm, so will keep trying and let you know πŸ™‚
      Yes, it really is grasping the fact that we ‘own’ the stuff and not the other way round. And you have made me jealous with talk of that little cottage by the shore. *sigh*

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