Deowning to Live a Better Life

by Frank Martin

While I’ve suggested before that there might be an “end point” that minimalism is working toward, thats different for each one of us, I’m not really sure thats the case anymore. There’s something about the constant whittling, questioning, self-honesty of constantly getting rid of unnecessary items thats invigorating. Its a sort of spiritual “sharpening the saw” to borrow a phrase from Franklin Covey.

I use two donation boxes, one in my closet and the other next to my bookshelf. When I’m done with a book and I’m pretty sure I won’t be going back to it or its been sitting on the shelf “too long” (usually a couple weeks) it gets dropped in the box, and when I’ve got a stack of five to ten in there they get taken off to circulate around a couple of the local used shops and whatever isn’t sold gets donated. The exception to this is a handful of books I have I KNOW I can’t get from the library and would be a pain to replace, not just because they’d be expensive, but because they’re covered in highlighting and notes that would be essentially impossible to recreate. As Josh Millburn of the Minimalists likes to say, the value is the information, not the books. If a book is sitting on my shelf untouched it’s probably better off at a used store where someone else has a chance to pick it up and get value from it.

Clothes that haven’t been worn in a long time, or in some cases that I just get sick of end up in the donation box in my closet to be carted off and sold/donated once I have somewhere between a half dozen and a dozen pieces collected. I subscribe loosely to Courtney Carver’s project 333. I say loosely because I’m pretty comfortable in all seasons with 33 articles of clothing for all year since I live in the NorthWest where its basically cold and rainy all the time, and so long as I have a couple pairs of shorts and decent sandals for the times its summery out, I’m good to go.

The sale/donation bit is important. Yes, I could probably sell whatever isn’t bought locally on ebay or Amazon, but I’m more interested in getting rid of stuff than making money. Its also a denial of the Sunk Cost fallacy to emphasize trying to get some bit of my lost investment back rather than simply getting it out of my place. After all, its not exerting any less psychological strain on me if I’m stressing about getting rid of it than if I’m stressing about having it.

More and more, my library has gone digital, and physical books have come from the library. A big exception being books I know I’m going to annotate heavily and want to go back to. This does a couple things: Saves money (since Kindle books are USUALLY cheaper (I found a $30 ebook recently. Granted it was half the price of the print edition, but still…), and to paraphrase a half remembered quote from Leo Babauta “I’ve got access to a lot more books if I treat my local library as my bookshelf.”

As for clothes, its important to remember two things: Clothes are meant to keep you warm and socially appropriate. If someone is judging you because you aren’t wearing a different outfit every day of the month, you’re hanging out with the wrong people. After all, when was the last time someone commented on you wearing the same thing (not literally) a couple days a week?

When it gets right down to it, the less we have, the more we might just be. Less to clean up or around, and the higher percentage of possesions we actually use and benefit from on a regular basis.