© 2017-2019 Hoang Nguyen
February 14, 2018 • ☕️ 3 min read
I didn’t really think about it until I was scrolling through Unsplash.com searching for some photos for my previous article. I came across the theme of minimalism and it caught my attention somehow with its simplicity and cleanness.
This made me reflect on how I used to be incredibly possessive and attached to all the things I own and longed for even more. The point of satisfaction was never met. I wasn’t happy at all with what I had. The many quality chinos, Italian shirts, watches, leather accessories, all that wasn’t enough, and I grew tired of myself feeling discontented.
“We don’t need bigger cars or fancier clothes. We need self-respect, identity, community, love, variety, beauty, challenge and a purpose in living that is greater than material accumulation.” — Donella Meadows
I used to think that the more I have, the happier I will be. I bought a lot of unnecessarily expensive things, believing that all those possessions would increase my self-worth and lead to a happier life. I loved collecting a lot of useless stuff, and I couldn’t throw anything away. I thought it would make me a more interesting person.
This thought was born from the anxiety that I will never know what tomorrow might bring. This translated into the need for a lot of money and other materialistic luxuries, so I gradually started to judge people by how much money they have. I convince myself that I needed to make a lot of money, so I don’t miss out on success, whatever that may be.
At the same time, I was continuously comparing myself to others who had more or better things, which often made me miserable. I felt stupid. So, a few years ago I said goodbye to a lot of things, many of which I’d had for years. And yet now, I live each day with a happier spirit. I feel more content now with less than I have ever before.
I’m trying to practice owning less stuff. — Alexandra Paul
Here are five changes I started embracing with owning less in life.
Once I have committed to living with less, I started to look for ways to spend my valuable time differently, not just what I can buy next. I’d rather spend my time and money doing something to create memories and not add mess to my life — experiences, activities and adventures have become more important than acquiring more things.
I have become more critical about what I would bring into my space. I stopped buying things just to satisfy my need for something new. Instead, I only buy things I have carefully thought about and decided will add value to my life. I start buying less and being more critical about what I do buy.
My spending habits in general changed after this mindset shift. I prioritise spending money on activities and experiences rather than buying more “stuff”.
“If you’re tired of organizing stuff, stop buying stuff.” — Joshua Becker
I started to say no to commitments that don’t align with what I value. As well as saying no to commitments that took too much time away from what I do value. I recognised that my time is my most valuable resource and became more intentional with how I spend it. This mindset shift has changed what I allow to take up both my time and space.
After I embraced the shifting mindset, I no longer feel like I always need more. I no longer tie my happiness to what I own, which is the thought of once I get the latest and greatest “thing” I’ll feel happy. I stopped believing I’ll be happy as soon as I make my next purchase.
My happiness and self-worth are no longer dependent on what I own. I realise the things I own are here to serve me, either by being useful or bringing me joy. What I own does not define me as a person or determine my happiness.
I have let go of the idea of keeping up with the latest products. I became content with what I have. Not only does what I own not define me as a person, but I also make the intentional choice to only keep what I use and love.
I feel satisfied with my belongings, knowing they bring value to my life rather than burden. With that, I no longer compare what I own to what other people own. It doesn’t matter anymore because my belongings do not define my life or my worth. I’m content with less because owning less made my life better. Comparison based on what people own became pointless.
“Stop buying things you don’t need, to impress people you don’t even like.” — Suze Orman