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What is the purpose of material possession? Why do we hold onto things we haven’t used in years? What is our emotional attachment to stuff?

I’ve started this year off with a healthy dose of questioning. The process of setting goals for the next twelve months has helped me expand on my understanding of what really drives me. As something of an introvert, I’ve spent my life working on controlling my emotions and trying to build a better version of myself from the inside out. This focus on commanding the elements of life within my control stems from a facet of my personality that has been nurtured over the years through my studies of Stoicism, Buddhism, the Tao, minimalist precepts, ancient Jedi texts (yes, I know…), Existentialism, among other philosophies.

Still, for someone who spends so much time focused on the emotional and spiritual side of life, I’ve noticed that over the years I have accumulated copious amounts of – for lack of a better word – things. Just taking a cursory glance around my apartment I can count well over a hundred books, Post-It notes galore (I take a lot of notes), a Yoga mat, a flat screen television (I cut the cable subscription but still watch DVDs), push-up bars, this computer I’m typing on, and other markings of a consumer lifestyle.

This has left me with the question not only of when I managed to accumulate all of this, but why. I really wouldn’t be able to tell you where most of these things came from. I can’t remember the time I bought them and what my reasoning was aside from the fact that I must have generally assumed these items were worth the trade-off of my earnings for a quick bump in immediate-term happiness. What I can tell you is that most of these things haven’t given me any lasting benefit as most are hard-at-work collecting dust particles.

This all takes us to the purpose of this article: The Purge.

My Minimalist Commitment

Going back to a philosophy I noted earlier, minimalism has really caught my eye. As a guy who prides himself on enjoying the simple things in life, I believe a good place to build on my foundation is by actually paring down the number of items in my possession. When you have less stuff, you have less stuff to worry about. There is only upside to having less clutter clogging the natural flow of one’s life. There’s even more upside to having no clutter at all.

Accordingly, I have committed to liquidate 50 net possessions through February. What I mean by net possessions is that I will be getting rid of 50 belongings and if I happen to buy something, I will need to get rid of another to make room. In other words, I may wind up eliminating 56 (or whatever number) gross items if I happen to take six others on board.

Near the end of February I should have an update as to where I am at with this and where I plan to go next. I figured I’d get started before thinking too far down the road.

To keep me on track and as a point of interest, I will keep a record of what I get rid of and the method I use to do so.

For instance, one area I plan to tackle is the clothing department; I have a lot of shirts I like the idea of wearing but never actually put on. As a creature of habit, I’m prone to wearing the same few things that fit well rather than branching out with a new colour scheme every few weeks.

The Ultimate Goal

I am hoping that by eliminating the things I don’t use, I will have the opportunity to gain a greater appreciation for the things I do have.

Further still, once I have effectively purged myself of the superfluous, I will then have established a platform for living more intentionally. In practice this will mean being more selective about what I purchase going forward. Each item I procure will require a stronger rationale than the base animal reasoning of I want it and force me to dig deeper. If an item cannot be expected to provide long-term utility and enjoyment, it simply will not earn a place in my life.

One of the reasons for actually establishing this website was to explore the various ways Richness can be achieved and to share that journey with others. Taking a deep step into this minimalist experiment is something that should inform my life for years to come.

The Bottom Line

What this boils down to is the fact that I’ve never been interested in getting rich for the sake of having a lot of things. That simply wouldn’t be me. My aspiration to be rich stems from a desire to be able to do the things I want to do that give my life meaning without the insidious worry of how to earn money. Having a lot of junk doesn’t serve that overarching life goal.

It’s time to shed the unnecessary.

Ryan

What do you think of minimalism? Have you ever purged yourself of unused items?

Pictures courtesy of pixabay.com

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