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Would you live with just 100 possessions?

August 15, 2010

It’s mid-august and Boston residents are gearing up for their sept 1st moves. This year, I’m included. I’ve been in my apartment two years now and am truly amazed at how much stuff I’ve acquired in that short time. As I sort through I’ve been asking myself do you really need this?

The answer most of the time is probably not… but then I’m faced with another dilemma, what to do with it? Some stuff I just can’t bear to throw away. I’ve had a styrofoam cup in my cabinet for almost a year now with the idea that I’ll reuse it for something… sometime. Well, it’s still there and now I have to debate whether to trash it or move it. (Trashed.) Fact is, we accumulate a LOT of stuff. It seems like material goods are defining us lately, which just doesn’t make sense, and certainly doesn’t promote inner happiness.

Let me introduce the 100 Thing Challenge if you haven’t heard of it yet. The idea is to pair down your belongings to 100 things, no more. It demands us to take a hard look at what we own and why. I’m not an active participant right now, but I keep thinking about it as I pack up my apartment. My backlog of Bon Appetit magazines? Most recipes are now digital anyway. Those shoes I haven’t worn in 2 years? Probably can be donated. My photo album of my trip through Europe? Keep.

Dave Bruno writes a blog about his experience getting down to 100 things and keeps a running tally of what he owns. I think the most interesting thing about his list is that pretty much all of the items promote experience. He’s not keeping a surfboard because it looks pretty in his living room (I don’t think…) but rather so he can get out and do something. Live life. Create memories, have experiences.

Recent studies have come to the conclusion that spending less and focusing more on family, friends, experiences can ultimately make people happier. Some of the frugal habits we’ve picked up recently during the recession have actually allowed us to become happier. Sure, it’s disappointing to want something and to not get it, but it forces us to think about what we REALLY want, not what the retail industry is telling us we need. And when we are buying less and thinking about an object’s longevity and durability, we are making huge strides towards a more sustainable way of life. We aren’t creating as much waste, we are putting our purchasing power towards well-made goods and we are becoming happier and more connected as a result.

What items would make your list?

photo: flickr/jek in the box {is home}
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