Strange things weigh us down in the 21st century; technology, our phones, the need to be accessible 24/7; our jobs, deadlines, gossiping co-workers or friends; tasks like laundry, dishes, and constantly tidying up; financial stress like student loans, medical bills and mortgages; health issues like cancer, obesity and heart disease; and first-world problems like coffee orders made wrong, long lines at the grocery store, and worrying about what you’ll buy to wear when you host your next social gathering.
But I’d like to focus on that sneaky something weighing almost every American down:
– our possessions.
We’re living in an age of overabundance. Psychologists point to our primal need of always making sure we have enough – enough food, enough shelter, enough warmth. But all those basic necessities have lead to “stuffocation,” says one BBC article.
Well, most of us have way more than enough. Enough to make us sick, literally.
So if our stuff is weighing us down, what are the benefits of lightening up?
I can tell you from our short-term experience with two kids, purging has brought everyone joy. We feel the weight lifting off our shoulders in three ways:
Emotionally: Most days we now walk into our living room (which also houses our kitchen table and an open kitchen nearby), and breath a sigh of relief. With less toys (we don’t have a playroom) and less “things” we bicker less and feel less stressed by stuff just laying around. Our marriage is better. Our relationships with our children are better. We simply feel better, and think clearer, without having to constantly “pick up” after one another. And let’s face it, this usually falls on the mom. So moms, maybe this one’s for you – if you’re tired of bickering… find ways to declutter and get rid of 90% of what you think you need. Because I promise, you nor your kids, nor your husband really need all those toys/electronics/dishes/furniture/knick-knacks… I could keep going here but I won’t.
Then there’s the financial aspect. With less possessions and less things to pay for, make payments on, continue subscriptions for, tune up or fix, we’re left with money to tithe, donate, put away or spend on experiences, activities and traveling.
Physically: I find the physical benefits to owning less to be true considering after several years of having children, my lower back should be getting worse, not better. After acknowledging we didn’t need as much as we did (especially in regards to toys), I’m bending down way less often to clean up after the kids. I find myself cleaning tables still (because, yes, we still eat!), and art materials and workbooks (we homeschool), and organizing the essentials, but it’s nothing like when our firstborn child was young. And we even have two kids now which usually means more things. But it’s the other way around for us now.
We thought more stuff = happiness. But we found out it’s actually the opposite.
Less stuff = freedom. Freedom = happiness.
You’ll also notice you have less to move! Who likes moving stuff you never use, nor will ever use, anyway?
And there’s the obvious benefit to your general health component – another post to come.
Spiritually: This is the most astounding benefit we see as a family. With less stuff to upkeep, manage, pay for and simply organize, clean or put away, we’re left with time – precious time with each other, individually and most crucially, the Lord.
We pray more as a family. We meditate on the Bible more often alone. We have time for family devotionals (and tea). We listen to worship music and dance. We talk about God and life.
We have more stillness and space in our hearts to find and listen to God.
Without things cluttering our vision and utterly weighing us down we feel lighter. More nimble as a family, we feel freer as human beings and are finding our true selves as we glide through life, happy and content with what we have.
No more and could do with much less.
PS. It’s January, so it’s only natural we continue our path to purge as a family, right into the new year and we hope you join us!