SIMPLIFY: Less Is More

I acknowledge that "Less is more" is so cliché.  "Oh wow, less is more.  What are you gonna say next, 'Orange is the new black'?" you might be thinking.  I get it.  ...For the record, I am the last person who would know what is (or even could be) the new black...

But from what I've seen in the last month, in my household, less truly IS more.

In our society, we are often told that we need more.  More money. More stuff. More fun. More everything.  It can be hard to think about deliberately not having everything you could have. 

Over the last few months, we have decided to downsize, big time.  The decision to do so comes not only as a response to and as a result of our new budget, but also as a preemptive effort to keep from accumulating stuff (mostly junk we don't need) further.  I'm not saying this was an easy process--for me, it wasn't. 

For me, the concept of "less is more" was particularly challenging when it came to: a. my cheapskate nature and b. my emotional attachment to gifts from friends and family.  But, no matter how I looked at it, I had way too much stuff.  I knew it.  (I hated admitting it, but I knew it.)  I also knew, despite how cute they are in the store, I shouldn't have to buy decorative boxes and dedicate hours of my life to organizing stuff I don't use.  When I could finally contemplate the idea of giving away my stuff, it clicked.  It seems almost too simply to say, but here's the most important thing I realized: If you make room and time for what's important, you'll have more room and time for what's important.  No more cleaning, dusting, scrubbing, polishing items you only take out to clean, dust, scrub, or polish.  I thought, Simplify: if you don't need it, you won't keep it.

I like to think of it as a hoarder intervention of sorts.  We weren't quite ready for the show, but we both displayed tendencies towards keeping things that were no longer of any use.  And, like we discussed in What We Use Least, it's nice to recognize the value in the valuable things you own.  I think you're able to do that more entirely when you have less.

The first step was downsizing our vehicle situation.  We sold the gigantic truck--the beautiful, but wasteful one that got approximately 12.5 mpg.  We purchased a motorcycle--one that gets approximately 78 mpg.  And we still have a small, super-cute two door vehicle--a fun one with a polka-dot interior that gets around 38 mpg.  The motorcycle has provided a few somewhat unexpected challenges, as this has been the worst winter in my Virginia history, but we've managed and winter is just about over!  We like that our new vehicle arrangement is more aligned with our values and the motorcycle provides unanticipated daily benefits.

We then went through every room of the house and evaluated each piece of furniture.  If we didn't love it, use it, or plan on using it in the next few months, it was out!  This sounds intimidating and challenging, and at times it was, but it became very rewarding, very quickly, especially after finding items to ditch.  This isn't an encouragement to get rid of everything you own, nor is it a suggestion to get rid of stuff just to end up in the same spot next year.  This is like a spring cleaning, but it's intended to be a one-time ship out and shape up.

We've also downsized our clothing and shoe collections.  During this time, I donated one third of my clothing to Goodwill.  You might be thinking how crazy that is--and I guess it does sound crazy, but if you make an effort to be honest with yourself about what you actually LOVE to wear, what fits you properly (without any SOMEDAY strings attached), and what you will actually use, you may find that you also have a large portion of your clothing going unworn.  (I have a picture, but it's not cute--just picture of a bunch of bags headed for the G'dub.)

Believe me when I tell you, you won't miss it. 

Well, actually, do you believe me?  Or do you think that the unworn/ unused items will somehow make you happier than you might be without them?  At first, I think I did feel that way; I didn't realize how nice extra (open) space would be. 

Do you have an emotional attachment to any of your items?  That was the toughest part for me.  To combat this, I asked myself the following in those situations:  how would I feel if I gave a gift to someone and they didn't need it?  would I be offended if they got rid of the item to help themselves?

You've still got time before spring officially arrives, so think about if this is something that will work for you and your family.  I haven't done the clean out in all aspects of my home, but I am working slowly to determine what I need and want.  The decisions I've made thus far have encouraged me and reassured me that simplifying my life and eliminating the excess is right for me.  It is perpetuating the feelings of contentment and peace by demonstrating to me that I can be happy with less than I had.  Perhaps, if you get the whole family involved, the process could even be a game-type challenge, rather than an emotionally-charged chore.