I had a life-changing epiphany. It was on May 27, 1978 in the wee hours following opening day of Atlantic City’s first casino, Resorts. My then-boyfriend and I were there until the casino closed (pre-24-hour operation). We drove around Atlantic City, off the main roads. I was stunned to see truly deplorable living conditions. I felt guilty about all I had and didn’t fully appreciate.
My epiphany? I would never again complain about things I didn’t have – I had everything I needed and much of what I wanted.
I’ve kept that promise. In fact, a few years ago I stopped buying stuff I didn’t need and avoided shopping centers. Maybe it was due to organizing and downsizing other people’s stuff, sometimes massive amounts. Or because I didn’t want more stuff. Probably both, plus Pareto’s 80/20 Rule: We use 20% of our things 80% of the time.
I don’t mean to sound like a scrooge. If you’re OK with your amount of stuff, have enough space, can afford and enjoy buying new things, and your life is not negatively impacted, that’s great!
But if you feel as I do, walk around your house, take a mental inventory and ponder these questions before buying more things.
- Will you use it and, if so, often enough to justify its purchase?
- Can you afford it?
- Do you have a specific place to put it?
- Will you take proper care of it?
- Do you/your kids need it or want it?
- Are you comfortable with the example you’re setting for your kids?
- Will your partner be OK with it?
- Do you shop to pass time?
- Are you trying to fill an emotional void?
- Do you place too much importance on things?
- Do your things control you and how you live?
Now when I shop for something new (who doesn’t like new things sometimes?), I focus on my goal and try to avoid aimless browsing – you know, how guys shop. I discovered it’s liberating being free from societal and marketing pressures to buy more, or the latest whatever, to be happy. You too can buck the gotta-have-more, gotta-have-it-now mentality with a change in perspective. You can do it yourself or with help from an organizing consultant.
I am truly happy with the many beautiful things I own. I have more than some and less than others. But I have more than enough. I’ll never own an Aston Martin and I’m OK with that!