Some of you know that I have been on a purge lately, so I was interested when the LA Times published an article about the effect of possessions on our lives. Here are some of my favorite quotes:
The average U.S. household has 300,000 things, from paper clips to ironing boards. U.S. children make up 3.7% of children on the planet but have 47% of all toys and children’s books.
Full bookshelves say, ‘I’m well-read. I have lots of books.’ But really, you just buy books.
I don’t think stuff is inherently wrong or bad . . . but if things have become obstacles to your happiness, that’s a problem.
I am impressed by the degree to which outer order controls inner calm . . . I cleaned out my fridge, and now I can change careers.
Photos by Michael Hvorecky, Janne Morin, Ally Aubry, and John Haslam, used with permission
Nick and I live in an 800 square-foot house farm house. It’s much bigger than the tiny houses that I often find myself dreaming of for a vacation home, but it can feel small, especially when we let it get cluttered by stuff. This inevitably leads to semi-yearly purging where we throw away, donate, sell and gift until our space feels under control again.
I’m feeling the need to purge again. As I was thinking about what I might get rid of, though, I struck me how hard it is to let go of things sometimes. I don’t know why really. If I think about it happiness is achieved through living a meaningful life – a life that is filled with passion and freedom, a life in which I grow as an individual and contribute beyond myself. Growth and contribution: those are the bedrocks of happiness. Not stuff.
If that’s the simple, unsexy truth, I needed a list…a “must list” if you will…of the things I must have to live a meaningful life. My hope is that this list will help me distinguish between the physical things in my life that support happiness and meaning and those things which don’t (and by definition can be let go of).
Carry’s Must List
- I must eat healthy food at every meal
- I must exercise consistently
- I must meditate daily
- I must spend time exercising my creativity (e.g. writing, taking photographs)
- I must grow as an individual (e.g. through meaningful experiences)
- I must build impactful, loving relationships with friends and family
- I must contribute to others
- I must be grateful and thankful every day
What do you think? Would you have the same things on your list? What would you add?
Photo: Arek Olek