It’s become fashionable to throw things away. Out with the old, to make room for the new. There are even groups out there that will help you get rid of your things and encourage you to eliminate as much of your stuff as you want.
I know. I was one of them.
In time I realized that the Minimalist movement had devolved into little more than a pissing contest; a competition to the bottom. “I’m better than you, because all I own fits into my backpack.”
“Tough,” someone might respond. “I got rid of my backpack last week.”
There is some good to be had in the Minimalist movement. If you find yourself overwhelmed with possessions, especially if you have reached the point that you are tripping over stuff, you might need to thin down.
However, unless you’re preparing to move house or backpack around the globe it’s not really beneficial to get rid of all of your things, especially if you use and enjoy them.
The trick is in the using. If you have a cabinet full of dishes that you’ve not touched in years, you might want to pass them on to someone who will enjoy and actually use them. It doesn’t make any sense to clutter up your life with a bunch of stuff you don’t actually use.
Now that I’ve decided to settle down in this little town I’ve allowed my possessions to increase as a result of my revelation. I enjoy reading so I collect interesting books when I stumble upon them for free or cheap. I keep a decent-sized collection of unread material now but as I read them, the ones that I know I won’t need for future reference are passed on to friends or donated to the local library.
When I stumble across a clothing stash that someone is giving away that actually fits (and is something I will wear) I add the items to my wardrobe. I discard the pieces as they wear out.
I don’t go crazy buying things but I do make room for things that come into my life that I will actually use. Since I have no intentions of moving in the near future (and I am nowhere near the point where I’m tripping over things), this allows me to increase my comfort level while saving money as well.
You should start doing this as well. Once you eliminate the things you really, truly, do not use, don’t hesitate to add something you will use to your collection of possessions if the price is right (preferably free, of course!).
Just remember that this isn’t an excuse to start buying everything in sight. If you have something that does what you need, use it instead of buying new. Just because you can own it doesn’t mean that you should.
4 thoughts on “It’s Okay to Own Things”
I have minimalist my life, but not crazy! There are things I stick up on, because I loath shopping so prevents trips to store. Plus I have a very limited income and I am a live within your means type, have a grandma that raised me with depression era type thinking so it has helped me a lot in life. I belong to a few minimalist groups in th and I know exactly what you mean that it has turned into an ego competition about how little you can live with. I feel it’s all individual and you have to decide the best path for you and your family.
After years of owning very little I’ve started buying toys. I rediscovered my love of Lego. I’m having so much fun in my second childhood. (retirement)
For a while I was giving everything away like crazy, but it just wasn’t practical for all the reasons you listed here. I miss some of the useful things I gave away in my minimalist zeal, such as a pair of perfectly fine motorcycle boots!
Some of the items I started collecting again is art and design books. They are expensive to replace, and even if I look at them only once in a while, there’s nothing wrong in having a library of things that inspire me.
While I wouldn’t trade the knowledge gained from the experience, in many cases it is better to own certain items that you will actually use. I’ve learned the hard way that, in my personal life, my books are even more valuable than I realized. I had no idea I referred to them as often as I did and that I was taking their value for granted. Never doing that again!
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