What is truly needed for happiness? That is the question I'm asking myself these days. It's my summer experiment. Trying to figure out what each person is passionate about and getting rid of everything else. EVERYTHING else. I remove several boxes of belongings a week from this house and I'm not even half way to where I want to be.
We don't need all this stuff.
It's quite ironic, actually, that I spent the better part of my young adult life trying to accumulate all these things, and now I'm spending my middle years trying to get rid of all of it. Our culture has pulled off the greatest deception in decades. My kids don't need to own every movie they've ever seen. They don't need toys made out of plastic that blink and beep and twirl. They don't need a dresser stuffed full of clothes that they'll never wear and so many stuffed animals they need their own separate living space.
Something has dawned on me recently. We are teaching our children what to value as adults. We are showing them what beauty is, what we value in life. I don't want my kids to think that "stuff" is important. Our consumer culture has certainly contributed to this problem. The more they have, the more they want, the less important it becomes. They never learn what is sufficient. Enough is never enough. "Well, it's okay if I don't take care of this because I have more." They don't really "see" the things they have because it's all just too much to focus on.
A strange piece of this that I've discovered is the "green" recycling enviromnentalism that has been ingrained in our children from a young age. I'm all about recycling and doing what's best for our planet but the backlash from that is that my children never want to throw anything away. I have a daughter that wants to save every piece of wrapping paper or tag from every present she's ever received because "I could use that for something." This is an even more compelling reason for me to become more vigilant about what we bring into this house. For now, you bring in one thing and you get rid of five, at least until we get things to a bare minimum.
I will say this. It's freeing. There is a weight that's lifted off of me every time I take a bag of stuff out of this house. I exhale and inside I think, there goes one more bag of things I'm no longer responsible for. I don't have to dust it, store it, find ways to decorate around it or feel guilty about not using it.
How much can I let go of? How much stuff can I remove from my house without affecting the quality of life and happiness of its occupants?
I'll let you know.