Finding Happiness by Having Less

We've all fallen victim to it at one point or another in our lives, the oft stated American culture marketing message that barrages us day and night with one message: having lot's of stuff is the key to a happy and successful life. There's even a saying out there that states that the person with the most stuff wins. That message is crammed down our throats day and night and sometimes we even buy into it. “I have to have it,!” comes into your brain and the next thing you know, you're buying something you don't need and may not even want. You may even notice after awhile that it's not making your life better or happier or easier, it's just making your home more cluttered and you a little poorer.


Below I've listed the top 3 ways people end up with stuff they don't want and need and some reasons why you should get rid of it right now.


Retail Therapy: Yeah, I get it. You had a bad day so you want a little pick me up and rather than eating a piece of cake or downing a glass or wine, you go shopping. You buy something you don't need and maybe don't really even want because the buying of the item itself is the therapy. You feel a little rush of excitement from the purchase and then you bring it home and half the time it stays in the bag or the tags are left on or it ends up in the back of your closet never seen again because you bought something you didn't want or need because you really needed and wanted a short-term “fix” to make you feel better and escape your problems. Except now you are creating a long term problem because instead of dealing with the issue that had you running for the stores, you've ignored it and now you've got a closet full of crap you never use as a result. Not only that but you probably feel guilty for buying it and worse for never wearing it. It doesn't even matter if cost $500 or $5 because the guilt is usually the same and you'll still feel guilty for never using it so you keep it thinking maybe one day you'll wear it or the guilt will go away or you can figure out something useful to do with it. Meanwhile, there's not much room in your closet to store the clothing you actually do like and wear.


Solution: The next time you've got the urge for some retail therapy, ask yourself if it's worth it to buy something you will never use AND feel guilty about it? Is that guilt serving you? NO! Also remind yourself that it's OK to feel bad about something. It's OK to have a crappy day and feel bad and just let yourself process the emotions. It's actually healthy to do that as are bubble baths, meditation or taking long walks. So take all the clothing you never wear and feel guilty about and sell it or donate it or give it to a friend. I don't care, just turn what was a negative thing into a positive by letting someone else enjoy it and freeing your body, mind and closet space of the clothing that no longer serves you.


Gifts: Gifts are great unless the gift giver ends up holding you as an emotional hostage in your own home and then it's blackmail. Sometimes it's not even the gift giver that's holding you hostage, but rather yourself. You love the gift giver so much that you keep something you dislike just because you feel as though you'd be letting them down if you got rid of the item. Sometimes you hang onto an item given by someone who is no longer in your life, perhaps they don't even deserve to be in your life anymore but you hold onto it because you're not ready to let that relationship go.


Solution: If you don't like a gift, you certainly don't have to tell the person you hate it, but you don't have to keep it either! Free yourself forever by getting rid of gifts you've been given but don't really like. Usually these items bring up rather strong emotions like guilt and anger and I'd love to know how surrounding yourself with guilt and anger is helpful to you? Especially when it's YOUR home you're keeping it in? How does creating a home built with anger and guilt serve you or make you feel happy and joyful in your own home? It doesn't and it can't. Donate it, sell it or give it back to the gift giver but hanging on to an item because someone else doesn't know how to give a gift properly (i.e. with love and good intentions) then that's their issue. Your issue is to be honest with yourself and getting rid of the stuff you don't like. It's also about severing relationships that don't serve you. Keeping a hold of an item you don't like or that creates bad memories for you doesn't serve you or the person it reminds you of. Let go of what's past and you'll free yourself up for a great future.


Sentimental Reasons: Your great-aunt Sophie gave you her favorite shirt years ago. Now she's dead. You loved great-aunt Sophie so you want to keep this t-shirt even though it's worn, has holes in it, you never wear it and if you're honest with yourself, it's kind of at the bottom of a drawer somewhere and you may not even know where it is. Your middle school boyfriend gave you a mixed tape, which was the first thing a boy ever gave you and even though you don't own anything that actually plays a tape anymore, you still keep it. A friend gave you a rock they found on the road you two were walking down while on a great road trip and you've kept it for the past 10 years.


Solution: That's great that you are holding onto something because you loved who gave it to you, at least that's a positive reason to hang onto something but if you're just shoving it somewhere and never look at it, what's the point? Either create a keepsake box for your treasured items, put them somewhere you can look at it or enjoy it, or put up a photo of great-aunt Sophie so that you see her more often and think of her. Keeping an old ratty thing that you never look at isn't doing you or her memory any good. Also make sure that you aren't just keeping everything that reminds you of your past just because you aren't ready to let it go. The past already happened and you can't get it back. Just think of everything you're currently missing because you are refusing the greatest gift of all: the present.


Keep things you love and need in your home and you'll find that the key to happiness was never going to be found in a closet full of clothes anyway but rather by surrounding yourself with love, support and things that matter.