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You Don’t Use It, But You Feel Attached to It

Well, your cat doesn't mind the clutter.
Well, your cat doesn’t mind the clutter.

Continuing on the subject of the minimalist lifestyle: the first thing to do is to stop buying stuff you don’t need and probably will never actually use, and the second thing is to get rid of the similar stuff you already have. That can be a problem if you’re emotionally attached to things — and you’re almost certainly attached to at least a few, if not more.

Emotional attachment isn’t the only problem, it’s also necessary to find the time and the energy, and to organize yourself. However, those three can be rationally solved. Emotional attachment is something else.

Once upon a time, your grandmother made you a sweater. You still keep your son’s baby clothes, or your daughter’s childhood toys. A souvenir from a vacation in Spain. And from a trip to Mexico. Some ugly thing your mother gave you — you never liked it, but how can you throw away or give away something your Mom gave you?

The list can go on and on, and you feel attached to every single item on it. How could you ever throw it away, even if it clutters your living space so much you have trouble moving properly, or finding anything you actually need?

Here’s what I do.

I go through my stuff and get rid of everything I don’t need or use and don’t feel attached to (by getting rid of it I mean either actually throwing it away, selling it or giving it to someone who needs it). I look at the things I don’t need but feel attached to, touch them, remember why I’m emotional about them, and leave them where they are or place them somewhere else.

About six months later, I repeat the process. I will still feel attached to some of the things I was emotional about, but the attachment to some others will fade away. It’s all in the head anyway. My memories and feelings are still there, it’s not them I’m throwing away. And so, I’ll keep some stuff, and get rid of the other.

Approximately six months later, there we go again.

Rinse and repeat, as many times as needed.

That way, I’m giving myself time to say goodbye to at least some of the things, and to strengthen the memories and the feelings inside me, which is where they belong. When the time comes, while I’m still fond of those things, I no longer feel so attached to them. It’s easier to let go and to clear some space.

I’ve found out that by clearing some space I’m clearing up my head as well, and making room for things which really matter. Feelings for people, not for objects symbolizing them. Fondness for memories themselves, not for souvenirs.

I’ve found out that it becomes really easy to let go, because better will inevitably come.

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Friday Fun: But, But, I Don’t Need It!

jesus_cat-finds-jesusDo I want it, or do I need it? That is the question I ask myself before purchasing pretty much anything, from sweets to gadgets.

There’s a great difference. If I don’t have waterproof shoes, I definitely need them, because rains are common in my neck of the woods. But that cute T-shirt, when I already have a bunch? Or that wonderful, amazing, cool gadget which I probably wouldn’t actually use all that much, but, ooh, shiny? Nope. Don’t really need them. I may want them, but I don’t need them, and probably won’t buy them.

We’re conditioned to want things. Advertising and the culture are using well known psychology tricks to make us want things, and those tricks work. On the other hand, the cultures many of us live in don’t normally encourage us to think whether we really need something. Quite the contrary: they do their best to convince us that, if we want something, we must have it now, this instant, or something terrible will happen. We won’t be cool. We won’t be able to organize ourselves (as if the majority of people truly need any organization tool other than their own brains, and perhaps a paper and a pen, which can be inexpensive). People won’t love us. Our lives will fall apart. Our children will cry, and, you know, it’s unacceptable to make a nine-year-old unhappy by not getting him iPhone 5, or whatever the latest model might be at the moment. The world as we know it will end. Wicked space aliens will kill or enslave us all, and make us eat spinach every day. Or something.

I remember visiting a nearby shopping mall after work, over 10 years ago. I had some business in one of the stores, but since the shopping mall was big and not close to my home, I thought I would walk around a bit and check it out.

I got tired within five minutes.

I kid you not.

It was overwhelming. All those colorful things, pretty to look at, but I couldn’t imagine myself actually wearing any of them. All those colorful things I had no use for. All those colorful things screaming for my attention, but offering me nothing of value. All those colorful things, being so tiresome. Look at me, look at me!, they screamed. But, but, I don’t need you, any of you, my brain replied, over and over again.

I did what I came there to do, and left.

Now, it’s not that I never buy things I don’t strictly need. What I do is stop and think. Do I really need it, or do I just want it? Do I truly need it for a specific purpose, or is my brain telling me Hey, listen, you buy this and you’ll find Jesus? If I need it and have the means (meaning cash, because I don’t use credit cards), I’ll buy it. If I don’t really need it, I’ll think about it. I won’t immediately buy it. I’ll think and wait. If I still want it after a while (maybe I will, maybe I won’t), and if it’s still available, I might buy it. Or, since I’m lazy, I might feel too lazy to bother with buying something I don’t really need (see, laziness can be good for you!).

What I won’t do is allow my brain to act as if it was recruited into some weird sect demanding of me to buy stuff. Because I already have most of the material stuff I need (and non-material, for that matter — there’s no need to sell me Jesus, really). Because I have no wish to clutter my living space; I’m trying to get rid of the unnecessary things, not to add to them.

So, that’s me. How about you? Do you go all ooh, shiny, and by tons of new stuff, or do you avoid spending your hard earned cash on something you don’t need, and might stop wanting after a very short time?

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Why I Don’t Own a Smartphone

catphoneBecause I don’t need it.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a technophobe. On the contrary, I love gadgets of all sorts. iPhone looks cool. Many smartphones look cool, and offer various neat things, like being connected all the time, being able to surf the internet all the time, check your mail, tweet on the go, and so on and so forth.

The thing is, I don’t need any of it.

I barely use my cell phone as it is. I got my first cell phone just before SO went to Russia on business; texting was a good way for us to communicate. After that, I kept it, and changed the model twice: once when the one I had become almost useless (I could hear next to nothing in moderately noisy surroundings), and once when my phone started to overheat, a few years after I got it. These days, it’s useful for occasional texting, especially when I travel to Croatia, and people can find me in the case of an emergency, if the emergency isn’t in the middle of the night and if I’m not somewhere where a cell phone should be turned off.

I don’t have a data plan, either. I use a prepaid card, and barely remember to keep it active.

A smartphone is good for staying connected, but I work from home and sit at my laptop most of the day, which means that I’m already connected most of the day. If a go out, well, that means that I went out, to meet with friends, or watch a movie, or have a lunch with my mother, or whatever. If somebody needs to cancel something, a “dumb” phone is just as good as the “smart” one. Everything else can wait until I get back home. If I want to post pictures of my coffee or my lunch (le sigh), I can post them when I get home. The same goes for random kitty pictures, and for pretty much everything else.

These days, we seem to forget what we used to know only a decade ago: It can wait, and the world won’t end because of it.

Smartphones also have a bunch of apps, and shiny colorful games.

I don’t use those apps, and manage to survive without them. I play games at home, I don’t have to play them on the go.

While I tend to react like a magpie — ooh, shiny! — I also tend to stop and to ask myself: Do I really need it? As in, really need it? Is this lovely gadget a tool for something I need, or just an overpriced toy?

The answer for a smartphone is the same as the answer for a tablet: it’s shiny, it’s cute, it’s cool, I love it — but I don’t need it.

And I don’t see myself needing it in the foreseeable future.

How about you? Do you own a smartphone? Do you find it necessary?

P.S. A bit of news about EzineArticles: I got the diamond status (the highest quality-based status they have). I’ve also posted two new articles, one about minimalist lifestyle (is it obvious I’m a minimalist myself? 🙂 ), and one about learning new languages.