Friday, June 25, 2010

Rant on 'Stuff'

We didn’t have a lot growing up and I struggled with money in my early adulthood. I know how to stretch a dollar, plan a week’s menu around the store flyers and have 101 recipes for ground beef.

Maybe that’s why I’ve clung to ‘things’, worried that I might just need them some day. At one time my basement was lined with unmarked boxes of 'things' that I didn’t even know I had, but I couldn’t bring myself to part with them.

In 2000 I trekked through villages in the mountains of Nepal where, other than the time they spend in very basic shelters to protect them from the environment, the people live outside. The children ran up and down the mountains like goats and always had enormous smiles on their faces.

I’m not saying that I understand what hardships the mountain people might have, but for the most part, they somehow appeared amazingly happier than North Americans. I came home from that trip and looked around my home and wondered why I needed so much ‘stuff’.

I made some life changes after that trip and temporarily shared a house with another woman for a year while I tried to figure out what to do with the rest of my life. Being an all-or-nothing kind of person, I did a major purge and fit everything I had left into 2 bedrooms and a small storage unit. It felt like freedom.

In The Story of Stuff, Annie Leonard says: "We, as consumers, are compromising our health and well-being, whether it’s through neurotoxins in our pillows or lead leaching into our kids’ food from their lunchboxes – and all this Stuff isn’t even making us happier! We work hard so we can buy Stuff that we quickly throw out, and then we want new Stuff so we work harder and have no time to enjoy all our Stuff… "

Future Shop has a brochure at their counters that says: DON'T FIX IT, REPLACE IT! How environmentally irresponsible. Shame on them!

I now live in a 4 bedroom house (5 if you count the basement guest room) and I once again own more things than I need. But I buy fewer things and the purging is easier now because I know it’s just ‘stuff’. While I do appreciate some items that are special to me and enjoy what I have, those things have never brought me happiness. What has brought me happiness is: time spent with people I love, nature, travel to places where I learned something about myself and others, simple pleasures like the feel of bare feet on a warm deck, or doing something for someone in need.

Happiness comes from spiritual wealth, not material wealth... Happiness comes from giving, not getting. If we try hard to bring happiness to others, we cannot stop it from coming to us also. To get joy, we must give it, and to keep joy, we must scatter it.
-- John Templeton


WhiteStone said...

I'm trying to get rid of "stuff" at our house, too! So Much Stuff!

Daria said...

I've been downsizing since my mets diagnosis. I feel so much lighter spiritually.