What I Learned Getting Rid Of 465 Of My Belongings
Last month, I decided to embark on The Minimalists’ 30-day challenge. The idea is this: on the first day, you get rid of one thing, on the second day, you get rid of two things, etc. So on the 30th day, after you’ve gotten rid of 30 things, you’ve purged a total of 465 items from your life.
I was already pretty minimal when it came to my clothing and possessions, so I was surprised by my many epiphanies as I continuously pared down to what was absolutely essential. Here’s what I learned.
1) Most of my belongings don’t mean that much to me.
One of Buddha’s most famous teachings is to feel open to anything but attached to nothing. In the most literal sense, this can apply to physical things.
Each day, I would make tick marks in my planner of how many things I’d gotten rid of so far. It was nice to see objects represented so plainly; it reminded me of their superficiality.
2) The things that do matter to me matter for a good reason.
I have two pairs of jeans (one blue and one black) that I wear all the time. They’re well-made and fit me perfectly, and I didn’t mind that they were an investment because I knew they’d be staples. If I were to part with one of those two pairs, I’d be affected by the change. But for so many other items in my closet, I wouldn’t even notice. That made it easy to say goodbye.
On the other hand, I have a shoebox stuffed with meaningful cards and letters. Every now and then I’ll riffle through to remind myself that I am loved by some remarkable people. I wouldn’t part with that box for anything.
3) I learned what I don’t need to spend money on in the future.
It’s so tempting to grab a tank top that’s on sale for six bucks or four sports bras when they’re buy one get one. But the pretty price tag is often a distraction from the fact that those clothes don’t fit perfectly and I probably don’t even need them. When I was going through my closet, things like that were the first to go.
Before I spend money on something, I now think more carefully about it, about the physical space I’ll “spend” as well as the money.
4) I started a ‘do without’ list.
When I have the urge to spend money on something that isn’t necessary, I jot it down on a running list along with the amount of money I’m saving by not purchasing it. For instance, I was obsessed with those lovely glass boxes that are everywhere right now, the ones with the gold or copper metal framing. I browsed a million websites and even bought one, but when I took it home, I saw that it didn’t really de-clutter my jewelry; it just put my jewelry clutter in a beautiful clear box. I didn’t need it. I returned it and saved myself $25 bucks!
This list isn’t about depriving myself of things I need or would put to good use, it just reminds me that not everything I want I need, and it celebrates when I remember that buying stuff won’t make me happy.
5) I found the most meaningful practice I can do with my stuff: give it away.
I love crafting things, namely cards and candles. For me, the process of making is therapeutic, but I don’t need all of the finished products. I found that giving these homemade lovelies as gifts brings them new meaning. I got the therapeutic benefit of crafting them, and now I can give someone a thoughtful homemade gift and feel great about it.
What objects do you surround yourself with that make you feel fufilled? What objects are holding you back?
Ali Weeks is a freelance writer and editor. She specializes in writing about health and wellness, relying on her experience in the industry as a Pilates instructor and professional dancer. She is passionate about helping people share their stories, and would love to do the same for you. Visit tidepoolreverie.com to learn more.