Recently I listened to Graham Hill, founder of TreeHugger.com on TED.com. Hill talked about all the excessive stuff we keep in our lives and how we don’t really need any of it. He urges everyone to live an edited life.
Hill suggested more stuff leads to debt, a larger environmental footprint and large amounts of stress. I agree that things in excess can cause stress; before I start any sort of project I have to clean everything. I don’t just clean my workspace but my whole room and usually apartment. I think the reason I do this is that I feel the most refreshed when I am in a space that has a clear area and isn’t full of distractions. Hill says less equals more freedom and more time.
Hill spoke of the three steps to living an “Edited Life.”
The first step is to edit ruthlessly, just let it go. We have to love the stuff that we buy and interact with daily. I know that in my room there are things I haven’t touched in years, yet I still keep them and can’t throw them away. Why? When I think of all the space I’d have if I just got rid of some objects it’s overwhelming.
I do think I am starting to go down the right path in editing what I buy. In the past couple years I have stopped just buying anything I think is pretty and started spending my money on things I would just die without. A vintage suitcase, glass vases, and old photo frames are just a few of the things that I just love having around me. I love taking these items and transforming them into art pieces or repurposed functional items.
The second step is to think small. We need to start buying things that we will use all the time, not just things that we will use once and then toss aside. For me this is jewelry; I buy so much of it but I don’t ever wear it. If I just looked at what I already have I would be discovering a whole new collection instead of just adding more and more.
Finally the last step is to make items multifunctional: Buy pieces that have dual purposes. Why can’t that coffee table open up and become a storage area? Why can’t a bookcase become mobile and open up to allow for storage? The possibilities are endless, so we need to start looking at the objects in our lives in a new way. Let’s be more creative with our stuff.
I believe humans are simplistic in nature. We long for peace and calm that can’t come from being buried in objects. Hill has a point that less stuff can lead to more happiness. So starting today I challenge you to take a deeper look at the items in your life and ask yourself, “What can I live without?”
What if we just took one object out of our lives a week? Can you imagine what your environment would look like in a year? Can you imagine how you would feel mentally in a year? n