Have you ever been in a situation when you had just your essential ‘stuff’ and felt happier because of it? Maybe you were on a camping trip or a long business trip. Once you adjust to having minimal stuff on hand, there is a joy that comes from having just what you need and nothing else. Does everything you own have a purpose? Is that high-dollar item you bought last year still getting used? I can only partially answer ‘yes’ to those questions but wish to do better in the future.
In a consumer society, we are surrounded by stuff. Seriously, have you ever looked around your home and thought about all the stuff you have? Have you ever gone over to a friend’s house and thought, “Man, they have a lot of stuff!” Some people may even have so much stuff that they pay a company every month so that they can store ‘extra’ stuff.
My wife and I do a pretty good job at cleaning out our house from time to time.
But I still find myself noticing things and asking myself why we have all this stuff. Even so, I find it hard sometimes to give up some of this ‘stuff.’ However, I often think back to a time in my life when I didn’t have a lot of stuff and realize that it was such a simple way to exist.
To put it into context:
- How many people do you know that pay for a storage space?
- Is your garage packed?
- Drawers full of old cell phones?
- Closets filled with clothes you don’t wear?
An Extreme Case Of Having Less Stuff
What seems like a lifetime ago, my daily routine consisted of leading a small group of men through villages of Kosovo as part of a U.S. Army peacekeeping mission. Life was full of routine in those days. It was two weeks living in a small fortified outpost in one of two small towns or ‘sector’ as we called it, followed by a week living on the larger base which was nicer but also not that nice.
Towards the end of my tour, we had become very good at knowing exactly what we needed for each mission. We knew exactly what to have with us for each two-week stint out in sector. We had less stuff because we could only take what we could carry with us. After even a few months on this deployment almost all my important belongings fit neatly into a rucksack that I could swing over my shoulder and throw into the back of my armored truck or HMMWV (yep, that’s how it’s spelled and stands for High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle).
Looking Back On That Young Lieutenant
Almost 20 years have passed since that chapter in my life came to an end. I can honestly say that although those times were certainly filled with hardship and struggle, walking out to my truck with a rucksack over one shoulder and a rifle over the other was the most rewarding time of my life professionally. I also look back now and envy that young Lieutenant who had all of his important belongings fit in a bag.
Everything had a purpose in that rucksack. Everything was valuable. Extra socks, undershirts, underwear, uniform, rain gear, warm weather gear, note pad, letters from home, toiletries, batteries, CD Walkman (remember those?), rifle cleaning kit, and a sleeping bag. I’m sure there was more but you get this gist. That was it! How simple!
Of course that is an extreme case of minimalism but as a father, husband, and homeowner I’m having a hard time fitting everything I have back into that rucksack. HA!
5 things to ponder when deciding to declutter your life:
- Having less will create more value in what you do have.
- Having less will allow you to save more money i.e. I buy less so now I can save.
- Having less will allow you to organize easier.
- Life can feel less crazy when material possessions are more organized.
- Having less stuff will allow you to feel more in control of your life.
Getting rid of extra stuff is an ongoing process. You are never really done. Something comes in which means something needs to go out.
What are your tips to manage all of your stuff?