Last year, Oprah did a show about Learning to Live with Less. She challenged her viewers to live with less “stuff” and with more “meaning”. The show really got me thinking. I’m not much of a materialistic person, with the exception of a few vices (ahem, shoes, for one). The past year, especially, has been a lesson on scaling back and consuming less. We spent far less on the “extras”, in an effort to save money for what we truly value ~ i.e. vacations. I would much rather be able to travel than drive a fancy new car, live in a big house or have an amazing new outfit for every day of the week. I realize that for some people, a vacation doesn’t fit into the equation. For many during these times, a choice must be made between paying the electric bill and putting food on the table. That is what makes Oprah’s experiment even more relevant. As I’ve been working on transforming a spare bedroom that has been primarily used for storage into my new crafting space, I’ve had to ask myself many times “can I live without this?” Many times, the choice to get rid of a certain item has not come without pain. The decision is made a little easier when I think about how much more I want a place to work on my craft, instead of that book that has never been opened, or some shoes that haven’t been worn in two years. It’s all just stuff, really. While we sometimes think that having a lot of stuff will make us happy, it can also complicate our lives. In the past week, I’ve gotten rid of quite a bit of stuff, much of which will be donated to charity. It makes me feel good to be doing that, but I’ve also vowed to end my hoarding ways from here on out. Like many Americans, I have been guilty of buying into the idea that more is more. I am now committed to being less of an impulse buyer. After all, a 10x10’ room will only fit so much. I want to remain on this path of living with less so that I don’t soon fill up the space to the point where it stifles me once again. I want it to be a place of inspiration, where I can create some amazing things. That’s what really makes me happy.
The families that Oprah highlighted were pretty much addicted to their electronic gadgets to the point that it distracted them from spending quality time together. Although I don’t consider myself a tech-addict, I definitely could not live without my laptop, or my digital camera. I need them in order to run my Etsy shop . . . does that count? :)
What about you . . . what material items could you not live without? Are there ways you could downsize if you wanted, or needed to? What are you doing to simplify your life and live with more meaning?