The Remarkable Things You Gain By Owning Less

What would happen if you reduced your belongings by half?

Visualise your home or office, and imagine your space with fifty percent less stuff. What might that look and feel like?

Initially you’d notice the obvious things, less inventory, more space, etc. But there are several other benefits to be gained that go beyond the physical differences. Here are but five of them.

1. More control

Owning less is more manageable, both physically – fewer things to look after – and mentally. Don’t underestimate the peace of mind that comes from knowing what you have.

Too much stuff can lead us to a point of disconnect, a point when volume exceeds our mental capacity to keep inventory, and we lose track. Have you ever experienced that vague uncertainty of what’s amassing in the spare room, the growing heap of paperwork, or an out-of-control wardrobe?

We get that nagging feeling to sort it out and bring it under control. But once we do, and have culled a few bags-worth to cart away, we feel great relief to have things ‘back under control again.’

2. Freedom to live in the present

What would you need to carry out your life, your work, and your favourite activities over say, the next month? Identify those items now, make a list: suitcase for travel, the clothes you love and wear, sporting equipment, hobby accessories, kitchen-ware, computers and gadgets, books, …whatever would happily get you through a month.

What you’ve just identified is a snapshot of your current life; the activities you’re involved in presently plus the things you use day-to-day in the here and now. 

Compare your here-and-now list with everything else you own. I’m not referring to furniture or seasonal items we use, but other possessions that no longer receive your attention: gear from old sports and hobbies, multiple sets of serving-ware, CDs and DVDs, books, clothes, instruments, small appliances. Include anything you may have moved ‘temporarily’ to another room, attic or garage.

All those things detract from today. One of the most common frustrations I hear from my clients is that they feel ‘tied’ to their homes. They struggle to enjoy guilt-free self-time or going away on holiday because too much stuff in their homes needs ‘tending to’.

Owning only the essentials that match your current lifestyle means you’re surrounded by what supports you to live in the present.

3. More quality, less quantity

If we were limited in the amount of things we could own, we would choose carefully, wouldn’t we? Owning less helps make our purchases more discerning, and better quality will last longer.

Which do you prefer: a smaller selection of beautifully made, long-lasting clothing that makes you feel great …or a wardrobe full of so-so clothes you picked up for a bargain? The percentage of what we wear vs what we own is typically low.

Invest well in key items, and part with the rest. Apply this principle to everything you own.

You don’t need to break the bank. Certainly spend within your means, but think higher quality on fewer items. Spending less often, but making better purchases will gain you more mileage for your money, and you’ll appreciate what you do have, that much more.

4. Less demands

Stuff is needy. Everything we own demands our attention in some way:

  • Stuff needs a place to live. You may have just brought home the latest and greatest XYZ, but where will it go? Once cupboards and drawers and closets are full, what then? Overflow begins to encroach on our living or working space. Less stuff means more room to live, work, think and breathe.
  • Maintenance and upkeep. From a small ornament on the shelf to the car parked outside, stuff can be high maintenance. With everything you bring in, ask yourself what will be required of you to own it? Will it need cleaning, dusting, batteries, regular maintenance, repair, servicing, parts replacement, feeding, watering? Of course these things are a part of regular life, but how much do you really want on your plate? Do consider the inherent time, space, money and effort that comes with each and every purchase. What do you own now that is overly demanding?
  • Mental occupation. Remember, everything we own in the physical world demands mental space, too. And that includes any emotions or associations – positive or negative – that we’ve attached to those possessions. Our brains have enough demands as it is, and out of sight isn’t out of mind. Owning less is a kind way to remove unnecessary stress, and open up more coveted headspace.

5. More time and productivity

Whether at home or at work, less stuff makes life easier. With less to look after, we navigate through our day more efficiently. Those extra minutes saved add up in our favour, and we’re rewarded with more time for the activities that matter most.

It’s easier to focus on the most important task at hand when there’s less screaming for attention. The mental clarity and focus that comes from owning less will go a long way towards boosting your productivity.

The more we own, the more our possessions monopolise our lives.

Letting go can be difficult sometimes, but the benefits to be gained are truly liberating.

Are you ready to own less?

What benefits will you discover?

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