Word count: 495
Read time: 3 min.
We have too much stuff.
In my presentations on how to organize a home, I am constantly sharing our need to cut back, cut out, cut down, and cut away. Why? Here’s a short list of the effort it takes to maintain our possessions.
You have to protect it, clean it, update it, worry over it, hide it, argue over it, care for it, preserve it, weigh it, haul it, thrash through it, brood over it, track it, store it, insure it, move it, apologize for it, tend to it, guard it, collect it, hunt for it, dig out from under it, stew over it, sort it, polish it, buff it, wax it, strip it, prime it, oil it, dust it, water it, wash it, press it, bleach it, stretch it, dye it, scrub it, trim it, hem it, hang it, hammer it, level it, spray it, shampoo it, adjust it, wire it, glue it, sweep it, paint it, and maybe even lacquer it.
Once you consider what’s involved in maintaining so much stuff, I hope you’ll be inspired to eliminate. Here’s a maxim that can change your life and protect you from developing a hoarding mentality:
“When you buy something new, give away two.”
So, when you buy a new sweater or pair of shoes, give away at least two of something — maybe a shirt, pants, or old jacket. Buy a new book? Clear away two or three books from your shelf that you’ll never read again — and share them with a friend.
Think about how much stuff we bring into our offices and homes compared to how much goes out. We focus on buying new office furniture or a new gadget, a sweater, suit, shoes, couch, table or TV, but rarely do we spend any time focused on eliminating. When was the last time you intentionally gave away two of anything when you brought something new?
Reality eventually confronts us. Our desk drawers can only hold a certain number of files. Our cabinets can only hold so many dishes. This can be hard, because those dishes were a gift from a special friend. And those files represent a major accomplishment you worked on six, or was it seven, years ago. That rickety old table brings fond memories of your college days. So on and so on. We hold onto, instead of letting go or sharing.
Sharing our good fortune with those less fortunate is a freeing, liberating experience. Gathering, packing, and taking our used furniture, or clothes to the nearest Salvation Army or local church ministry that distributes to the needy can help set you free from a hoarding mentality and develop a less cluttered and more easily maintained life.
Seneca, an early Roman philosopher, expressed this truth well: “It is not the man who has so little who is poor, it’s the man who constantly craves for more.”
So, next time you get something new, give away two!