“The secret of happiness, you see, is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less.”
The illusion of more
Most of us were born into a materialistic society. A society that at surface level seems to value its possessions over life experiences.
This is not the case with all of us but if an alien were to observe modern society as a whole this is how it would look.
We never seem to have enough. We are programmed to believe we need to consume ever-increasing amounts of material stuff to fill the void. To be happy.
Once we have the latest model six months later a new one will replace it and we are led to believe we need that instead.
Even if the differences in the models are minute, somehow we are sold something that more or less provides the same service.
This is the illusion of more. More material equals more happiness.
This leads are homes and our lives to be filled with shit we don’t need.
Nomadic Culture VS Agrarian Society
The tribesman and his nomadic clan were not big on material ownership. The lifestyle would not allow it.
Every extra item possessed was an item that needed to be carried when it was time to break camp.
An extra burden.
This meant in times of plenty the tribesman would have distributed his usable plunder among his fellow merry men.
They would remember the gesture when they had plenty and return the favor accordingly. They were a unit.
With the agrarian societies things changed. Remaining in one location meant things could be stored.
The farmer didn’t have to distribute his plunder among his fellow-men if he did not wish. He was able to store it for his own use in the future.
This meant less sharing and more keeping. Less of ours and more of mine.
This more of mine mentality has become a curse upon the planet, with billions of humans trying to store what they don’t need or use.
Adopting the possessions equal time mentality
Any additional possessions the tribesman acquired would have been keenly felt by the burden of physical weight.
The burden of our extra possessions in modern society are felt more subtly. Often so subtly that we don’t even realize they are a burden.
The burden of material possessions in modern society is the time (aka money) they take to acquire and the time they take to maintain.
“The cost of a thing is the amount of what I will call life which is required to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run.”
Henry David Thoreau
Everything we own had been paid for with our time at some point in our lives.
This is so simple and obvious that it is overlooked by the majority of the population.
We may pay for our possessions in money but the reality is we actually pay with our time.
How many hours is your mobile phone worth to you?
We also pay with our possessions with the time it takes to maintain them. More possessions equals more maintenance and space to store them.
“The things you own end up owning you.”
Life is short! How do you want to spend your time here?
Downsizing your possessions – How much do we really need?
So if like I did in the past you are currently having a revelation and you are considering downsizing your possessions the follow question will follow:
“How much do I really need?”
The good news is the answer to this is extremely simple. Toddler simple.
You only need what you regularly use or what adds some kind of value to your life.
This is different for every individual as we all live different lives. Remeber you are downsizing your possessions.
Unless it has been used in the last 3 months or it is a seasonal item (think winter coat) it is unlikely it will be used in the next 3. You don’t need it!
Perhaps you have a family photo that has no practical use but makes you smile every time you walk past. Therefore it adds value so keep it.
“There are two ways to be rich: One is by acquiring much, and the other is by desiring little.”
Jackie French Koller
Many of us never consider the materials that we regularly use or those that add value to our lives. This leads to cluttered homes, no free time, and a degraded planet.
By being conscious of what we buy and own we can free up our homes and our lives for that which is important.
Downsizing your possessions – Removing vs organizing
When downsizing your possessions you may be tempted to simply move them to other locations such as cupboards, the attic, and storage for example.
This is not downsizing this is storing or at best organizing.
Remember the 3 months rule. If the item sits outside of this window give it to someone who will make use of it.
Failing that sell or recycle it.
There are so many materials already in circulation that if this habit was to be adopted by the masses humanity would instantly become more sustainable.
It would also help us shift from an individual mindset to a collective mindset. Not bad aye?
“Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.”