Separate happiness from owning stuff
by Brad Beckstrom
You would think someone who writes about living lean and minimalism would not have a stuff problem. Think again.
It’s the start of a holiday weekend and I just spent a over an hour on the phone with Apple support. Turns out I have too much stuff on one of my two computers. I have too many extensions on my Chrome browser. One of these extensions, or other apps, are creating issues, causing the browser then the computer, to hangup.
Apple was nice enough to help me with my out of warranty iMac. I’d imagine there’s some reason for this. Maybe they looked at my support file and got a glimpse of how many Powerbooks, Macs, iPhones and iPads I’ve purchased over the years. I’m embarrassed by this number. When you add in my wife SuperK, my two kids, and various ventures I’ve purchased Macs for, I am very embarrassed by this number.
Mo Stuff = Mo Problems
See the problem is not really the Mac, it’s the number of Macs and the number of apps. Mo Stuff = Mo Problems. Rapper Notorious B.I.G. famously said Mo Money = Mo Problems and things did not end well for him. Shot dead, likely due to some money problems with other rappers.
In my case, is it actually possible to die from tech support issues? I’m not sure, but I think it could happen. These are all definitely #firstworldproblems, too many Macs, too many smart phones.
Awwww look at that poor family suffering with all their malfunctioning devices, they can’t even check in on Facebook.
Keep at it until stuff no longer owns you.
But if you’re going to separate happiness from owning stuff, you need to keep working at it until the stuff no longer owns you. And in my case, after being stuck on the phone dealing with computer issues, I need to put off my technology stuff issues for a few weeks.
I needed to get out to the garage and take out my tech frustrations on some other stuff, maybe some old kids toys or dog toys. Yeah, I’ll go crazy in the garage and storage room. There will be no holiday decoration or gadget safe from my wrath. I will disappear for hours filling boxes with old stuff. Then I’ll jump online and schedule an old stuff pickup with Purple Heart and the boxes will be gone by Tuesday.
This happened. I filled two large boxes with stuff on one of the most beautiful days of the year. So, you see the stuff really does own me. Here I am in my garage or sitting at my computer working for stuff. For now.
But I will keep working at this. Perhaps I can flip this formula on its head in the very near future and roll with Less Stuff = Less Problems.
Here are a few of the ways I’ll be rolling with less stuff.
- Keep a full-size cardboard box in the hall for charitable donations. Anytime you come across something you haven’t used in a long time, Drop it in the box
- Try to fill a box or two every month. Don’t let stuff accumulate in bedrooms or the basement.
- Use a local service like Green Drop, The Purple Heart or Salvation Army that will let you schedule a pickup for these boxes online.
- Switch to Google Drive. Free cloud-based apps that are better / simpler than competitive options from Apple or Microsoft. Get the whole family using them. They are updated automatically. This is way better than having three different versions of Microsoft Word crashing on old Macs and PCs, that all need updates.
- Get rid of those old books like Quicken 2009 for Dummies, etc.
- Embrace the cloud. Get some free encrypted cloud storage from Google, Amazon or Dropbox. Store all your old photos pictures of kids artwork and other stuff there.
- Don’t confuse being organized with having less stuff. Go clean out that storage room. Try to save that task for a rainy day, so by the time the nice days roll around you’ll be traveling light.
- Wear stuff out then don’t replace it.
I’ll leave you with a quote from Fight Club
“You buy furniture. You tell yourself, this is the last sofa I will ever need in my life. Buy the sofa, then for a couple years you’re satisfied that no matter what goes wrong, at least you’ve got your sofa issue handled. Then the right set of dishes. Then the perfect bed. The drapes. The rug. Then you’re trapped in your lovely nest, and the things you used to own, now they own you.”
― Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club