Babysteps to Simplicity: 7 Strategies for Getting a Grip on Acquisitiveness

simplicity-1The buzz around the concept of “simplicity” is so appealing, so enticing, so where I’d like to move towards. Shedding the ‘stuff’ of life makes me feel like I can think faster, jump higher, laugh more readily. There’s air between me and the pavement.

The simplicity movement is a big money-maker. Like dieting, it has become an industry in its own right, because it doesn’t stick first time. We clamor for ever more answers, insights and secrets. Who can resist another “10 ways to simplify your life in 10 minutes” kind of article? Not me; ever hopeful of finding the ultimate solution that will change everything. It’s elusive. I’m still searching.

The gazillion tips and how-to’s are all well and good, but ever increasingly sophisticated stuff-management techniques remind me of a stress management talk by Robert Pennington I attended years ago. His theory of stress management was to remove the stress factors, rather than devise clever techniques for absorbing ever more of them. Brilliant!

When it comes to simplicity then, maybe the step-change that is needed is to stop the pipeline that feeds all this stuff into our lives in the first place. So why is this so hard? Why do we fail? I’m not going there. Instead, I’m on a mission to shut off that pipeline. Get a grip on acquisitiveness of all varieties, shapes and flavors. Don’t allow that thing to appear in my in-box, pass through my hands, show up on my radar, or even enter into my thoughts.

At the risk of causing our expansion-based economy to collapse, I’m working on some strategies to stem the flow. Like dieting, there’s always the lurking danger of relapses, binge-consumption, temptations, etc until you settle into a new comfortable co-existence with the excesses of the world we live in.

Here are my Top 7 mantras. What are yours?

  1. Shopping is a chore — Keep shopping in the ‘chore’ column – don’t let it sneak over into the hobby or entertainment realm, i.e., something you might call fun.
  2. No lasting physical footprint — Focus on consumables rather than keepables – then the stuff naturally disappears.
  3. I just don’t need it — Do not buy anything that you have been living quite happily without for a long time – for me that includes souvenirs on trips.
  4. Consider Re-___ing first — Re-use, Re-cycle, Re-pair, Re-gift – helps clog up that pipeline too.
  5. I am marketing immune — Move all marketing materials that appear in your life directly to the recycle bin – eliminate the quick-glance step, it’s very freeing.
  6. If I really want to know, I’ll come to you — Unsubscribe from at least one unneeded email distribution list every day – these things breed like rabbits.
  7. No money = No purchase = No stuff — I often leave my money and credit cards behind, when visiting friends, going to the gym, going for a walk, etc. – it works on ad-hoc errands and unnecessary store drive-byes like Roundup on weeds.

Next baby step is to venture into getting rid of the stuff that I shouldn’t have acquired in the first place … ouch .. that’s harder! I’m attached to all that now! Gotta run, just heard the mailman, so am going downstairs to practice #5.

p.s., Just for grins — #8 would be “no more Simplicity books or magazines”, unless you’re sitting in a waiting room with nothing better to do 🙂


About lynnmorstead

Writing about the small things that shape our lives
This entry was posted in Aging, Culture, Life Coaching, Personal Effectiveness, Simplicity, Society and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Babysteps to Simplicity: 7 Strategies for Getting a Grip on Acquisitiveness

  1. Couldn’t agree more.

    Getting rid of the stuff you already have, I agree, is the hard thing. I sometimes dream of giving up the house to move to a small flat in town. But it won’t happen. We have to many things that we cannot bear to get rid of. We have become PRISONERS OF OUR POSSESSIONS.

  2. dick says:

    Two things I have learned in the simplicity game:
    1) You can stop catalogs with such web sites as although I’ve had to call some travel companies to tell them not to send me catalogs or I would boycott their trips.

    2) I can buy anything I want at Costco but have to eat or drink it.

    I am working (very slowly) on my attic with the mental set that when I die, my kids will throw everything in a dumpster. So if I dread that thought, I should dispose of stuff on my own. I’ve taken a bunch of yearbooks and offered them to my students through facebook and got some takers. The rest will go in the recycle bin after I browse through and scan anything I think may be of use to the grand family history one of my grandkids will write someday.

  3. Celia says:

    Love this post with its suggestions and readers suggestions. I have been repurposing and decluttering with intensity for 8 years and I still find places to re-______ everyday. I make space to fulfill my purpose and to serve.

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