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Declutter, Live Simple, and Live Happily

23 Sep. 2011 Posted by Hannah Mich
simple lifestyle, minimalism, declutter, sustainable living

So with the green movement we are also hearing about minimalism or simple lifestyles. For some, it means living in tiny houses, shopping at second hand stores and giving up many things you want and enjoy. But lets take a step back and compare the average American lifestyle and a more simplistic lifestyle. First let us describe the average American lifestyle. It is living in debt; it is a 30 to 40 year mortgage; it is purchasing products for pleasure and status; it is being trapped working at a job to make money for things you bought 6 and 12 months ago; it often leads to an emotional attachment to materialistic things; it is living to make the money to get the products you want, and it is a never ending cycle of make money, spend money, make money, and spend money.

"...enjoy the feeling you get when you declutter your home."

For the description of a simple lifestyle, I am going to use my husband and I as an example. Before I continue though, I want to point out that my husband and I made this change primarily to move closer to his job and it just put it is the position to downsize some. We moved from a 1,000 square foot house [which is less than half the average American's house size] with a full basement, yard, shed and one car garage to a 790 square foot condo with a small storage unit in the basement. After moving out of our house and prior to moving into our condo, we re-evaluated the things we needed and the things we could live without. Our rule of thumb was if we did not use it in the past year, we did not need it. Mind you, there were many items that my husband and I forgot we even owned, meaning these were items that had not been used in several years or more.

In this process, we realized that many things we had just to have them; they served no major purpose. They brought no meaning or joy in our lives and had no place in our day to day life. What they did do was make us believe we needed a bigger house because they occupied the closets, basement, shed and garage. In the end, we donated or sold lots of stuff: clothes, furniture, a car, kitchen gadgets, books, electronics and yard supplies. And guess what, we are not any less happy or less satisfied. Our quality of life is not any less than what it was just because we do not have stuff cluttering up our home. In fact, it was enlightening and invigorating to think how much money we are going to save now that we realize how little we actually need to live comfortable and happy lives.

My advice is to do some fall cleaning. Donate or have a garage sale and enjoy the feeling you get when you declutter your home. Living a more simple lifestyle should be the norm, especially since it is a more sustainable lifestyle and it gives you more financial freedom, which is a major cause of stress and relationship problems.

Image: Ambro /


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