Living With Less

I’ve recently come to the realisation that the majority of stress in my life holds its roots in owning stuff. I’ve been working on having less stuff and as a result I feel lighter.

It started with CDs and DVDs, I had a reasonable collection – not many, not few – and managing my music and movie collections was a mixture of physically moving the items, ensuring discs returned to the correct cases, and just having them taking up room in my home. I resolved to buy a NAS drive (I could have stored them in the cloud on a subscription basis but I preferred the upfront cost) that is stored with next to my wifi router. I uploaded all the content to the device and I recycled the physical media by giving items away and selling others. The outcome is that I have more room in my home and still have access to the media, either through the NAS drive or cloud services like Spotify and Netflix. I don’t buy physical media anymore unless I really value the physical product.

My contents insurance quote prompted me to consider what I valued as a possession and it was a refreshing exercise that showed me that the only things I really need in my life are my Fiancé and my Dog – if the house was on fire and they were the only things that got out, I would be relieved and happy.

I listened to a podcast with James Altucher and learned that he now only owned 15 items, choosing to live out of airbnb locations and living his life out of a bag. He probably has a lot more money than me, though I may be making an unfair assumption, and I like to imagine he is financially secure and affords the comfort of such a lifestyle. Whatever his situation is I still appreciate the sentiment and encouragement to live lighter.

I read The Life Changing Magic Of Tidying Up and stopping short of literally kissing my belongings goodbye in a tearful farewell, as the book suggests, I decided to ruthlessly throw belongings in a bin and see how I felt – it felt great. It’d take things I hadn’t used for a long time (if at all), usually stored in the garage or at the back of a cupboard, and throw them away. If it felt good, I made sure I got rid of that item whether that was giving it away, selling it, or throwing it away if I really had to.

Over the last year or so I have become a big fan of climbing and with the climbing culture there is a the concept of the Dirtbag Lifestyle. Living out of a van #vanlife with just the necessities in life to ensure the freedom to climb and not be tied down by your property. I’m not going to be moving into a retrofitted transit van any time soon but there are important lessons to be taken from the Dirtbag Lifestyle.

The biggest thing I have taken from this period of my life has been to remember that we come into this world with nothing and we leave it with nothing. In the middle we can acquire possessions and property but like Monopoly, at the end all the pieces go back in the box.

I endeavour to be less of a consumer of needless stuff, while at the same time ensuring I can afford comfort and security to enjoy life experiences. So maybe you will want to give it a go, I suggest starting with your wardrobe and donating anything you haven’t worn in at least a year. There is much more to living with less and a good basis for your decisions is to consult Maslow’s Hierarchy Of Needs as your guide to a lighter life.