This year I started a “Word of the Year” exercise. You pick one word to be your theme or intention for the year. For 2011, I chose the word “simplify”. The word was chosen as I looked around & was completely fed up with the piles of “stuff” that were crowding our house. “Stuff” we did not love or use. “Stuff” that visually distracts from the few things we do love. So I started on a mission.
Room by room, pile by pile, we went through everything with a fine-tooth comb. And boy, did we make a dent. I can’t begin to count the trips made to donate things to Goodwill. We even had a yard sale this summer. Remodeling the house this summer gave us another opportunity to purge – we had to pack everything on our main floor into boxes & I was determined that all of that stuff was not going back once we were finished.
I realized through this process how much my ego, or identity, was tied to my “stuff”. If you ever came to my house, you know I had HUNDREDS of books. Initially, my books were not on the “simplify” list. These books were like my friends. What if *one day* I wanted to read one again? But my BOOKS define me! I can’t get rid of those! Then I started to look at my books objectively. Did I really like the books that lived on my shelf? Or rather the IDEA of having hundreds of books on my shelf? Or what having hundreds of books on my shelf implies about my lifestyle? Does that make me seem smart to people who visit? Educated? …….?
Being truly honest with myself, there were tons of books I would never read again. Collecting dust. Un-loved. So I sold/donated/gave away the majority of my books. My collection has now been pared down to a few hundred books that are very well-loved.
This exercise has been really eye-opening for me. It’s forced me to evaluate whether I truly love something & what it adds to my life. I’ve also noticed that I am much more hesitant to buy something new unless I REALLY absolutely love it. So not only do I have less things in my house, but I am bringing in drastically less.
Not surprisingly (or surprisingly?), even though I have LESS material possessions in my house, I am intensely more satisfied. My house seems lighter, I feel lighter.