You vs. Stuff: Five Strategies for Winning Every Time
“Anything you cannot relinquish when it has outlived its usefulness possesses you, and in this materialistic age a great many of us are possessed by our possessions.”
~ Peace Pilgrim
Over the weekend, we tag-teamed a huge yard sale with my in-laws. Truth be told, it looked and felt more like a bonafide flea market than willy-nilly yard sale: Table after table of stuff laid out under canopies; long lines of people meandering through like cattle through the gates; even a lemonade stand to help raise money for the local food bank.
My wife and I have been in this stuff-dumping mode for a while. Kids get older; interests change; what we value shifts with time. It’s natural. So is the process of letting go. Learning to embrace this objectivity towards our stuff has helped us stay the course and learn some important lessons along the way.
Are you considering going toe-to-toe with your stuff in an attempt to clear the clutter and turn back the tide of consumption? Here are five strategies that have helped us–and can help you–win every time:
- Let Go of Emotions. For so long, our stuff has defined us. Whether consciously or unconsciously, we have bonded in some way with it. That makes it hard to give it up. Who wants to let go of something that makes made you feel good at one time? Seek to look objectively at your possessions for what they are now, not what they might have been to you in the past. Remember, your stuff does not define you, you do.
- Involve the Whole Family. If you have kids, this strategy will pay major dividends. We asked our two oldest kids (ages 7 and 5) to go through their games and toys first, sorting out what they didn’t want. And you know what? They did a great job! While we helped them make the final cut, getting them involved from the get-go invested them in the process, learning a thing or two about stuff and our relationships to it.
- Seek the Greater Good. You might have had a need for your stuff in the past but now you don’t. More than likely, it could take on a new life for someone else. If you can’t sell it (or don’t want to), donate it to a worthwhile charity. Pay it forward. Create good karma.
- Build Your Borrow/Barter Network. This is a sure-fire strategy for getting rid of those things that you only use once in a while. Figure out who in your circle owns the thing, then fall back on the tried and true method of borrowing. If you have stuff they want, consider a barter set up. We do this a lot for tools and it works out beautifully.
- See Dollar Signs. My in-laws made over $800 in one day selling stuff that had been gathering dust in their basement. Not too shabby. If you’re working towards eliminating debt or saving for something, that extra stuff you have lying around the house could bring in the extra income you need to achieve your goal(s).
All of this giving and selling has me pondering this question: Economics aside, could humans cease manufacturing any new stuff for a year (or more) and survive on what is already in inventory or in our possession?
I think so. Especially if we are taking steps to live more simply, turning more to the immaterial things in life for our happiness.
Imagine what that could accomplish — for ourselves, for humanity, for the planet and all the beings that call it home. Amazing.
If you liked this post and think others might too, please consider sharing it via Twitter or another social media outlet. Many thanks. You may also enjoy these posts:
- Consumption Junction: Reclaiming the Lost Art of Moderation
- Challenging the Throwaway Culture of Convenience
- “When Your Heart Is Beautiful”: Relishing the Simple Insights of Children
[image: Holly Abston]