Consumerism has been amongst us for more than 100 years. Prior to consumerism, people bought things they needed. Food to survive, clothes to keep you warm, but it was the industrial revolution that changed all that. As production increased so did the need to sell extra goods made. As profits increased, so did the need to make more money. How do you get people to buy things they don’t need? Simple: you make them believe they need it!
It started out with status. To have something only a few people could afford, made one easily identifiable as one of means.
It then lead to identity. What one possesses is a marker of one’s identity. Those things that make one unique.
And it is ending with rising storage and stress. The golden age of the storage industry is directly correlated to the rise of consumerism and over consumption.
Do you really need that many T-shirts, that many Iphone chargers and their original boxes? Can you defeat over consumption?
As we buy more, as we store more of what we have bought, as we try to stay up to date with trends, we inadvertently cluttered up our lives and slowly drown in our possessions.
The vast majority of people find that home organization and clutter are a source of stress. Those that don’t probably have little possessions, no clutter, and no related stress.
According to research cluttered environments can be negative and lead to an inability to relax and a lack of productivity.
Think about your desk at work if you have one. When it is spilling over with documents, how does that make you feel? You probably feel a bit overwhelmed. That’s not good.
What can be done about all that stuff?
Go buy a book written by a specialist.
Have a Revelation.
And Build a Plan.
1. Go buy a book
The life changing magic of tidying up by Marie Kondo.
2. Have a Revelation
Possessions are a burden. A home with too many possessions is a a source of stress.
Possessions need to be taken care of. They need to be washed. They need to be stored. They need money spent on them for them to continue to be useful.
The more possessions you have and the more you buy, the higher the risk of being evicted out of your home by your possessions, as they take on an ever-greater part of your living space.
Go take a look at your home office? It is always covered in books and papers? Can you actually ever use it? Has it been taken over by your possessions?
The clutter in your house can lead to clutter in your life as you spend your time continuously cleaning up and organizing. Your possessions also like to move around and see your house. That T-Shirt that gets dropped on the floor, moves to the chair and sits their for a week. that magazine that arrives and makes it’s way to the kitchen and then to the living room to end up squatting in the toilet for months if not years.
Instead of your house being a place to come back to in the evening to relax and escape the noise of the city, it can quickly become a chore. Your stuff can become a source of stress.
And that has consequences that you don’t want, and which can clearly be avoided.
3. Build a Plan
Marie Kondo says that you should focus on what you want to keep. She says you should hold each object and see if it brings you a positive or negative feeling. Her approach is not very scientific, but after reading the book, you should be convinced it is as good an approach as any other.
So, draft a short plan and get to it.
-Start with T-shirts and tops.
-Move onto pants, underwear and socks
-Then clothes that hand on hangers.
-Then electronics and books
-Then everything else
Do it all as quickly as you can and take everything out of closets and storage areas, lay them down on the floor and attack. The more you linger over things, you more you can become distracted.
Throw the things that don’t don’t feel bring anything to you away or better yet, when you throw them into those trash bags, give them away to someone who might need them.
Those things you are keeping as a reminder of some obscure holiday or concert. Is your brain really that bad that you need a physical thing to hold onto the memory?
Is the massive time you spend cleaning, washing, ironing, straightening up worth all those useless things you keep?
Would someone else be better off with them?
Would your life feel better if you spent less time taking care of your stuff?
Yes, yes and YES!
The unexpected benefits of throwing / giving things away
It turns out that getting rid of stuff, or rather deciding what to keep, is a very therapeutic process.
It is not complex and stressful. With each item discarded into a big black plastic bag, the more lighter you actually feel.
The more the bags that pile up in the entrance way, the more you feel better and cleaner, fresher, less stressed and tired.
It as if through the act of discarding things, you take a weight off your shoulders.
Once you take back control of your life from your possessions make sure you Organize Better
One of the key steps in Marie’s book, after cleaning and tidying up, is to better organize your storage of the things you retain.
Each thing should have a dedicated place (which makes it easier to find when you’re in a rush to leave the house, by the way).
Tidying up can have a positive influence on your life. It can remove lingering stress and make you feel more alert and alive.
It can lead to you feeling more in control of your life and that is powerful and can lead to even better and more surprising things.