Tag Archives: shopping

How to Simplify When You Love Your Stuff, from Zen Habits Blog

How to Simplify When You Love Your Stuff

“Simplifying is liberating and beautiful.

“It all depends on whether you have things, or they have you.” ~Robert A. Cook

“Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Barrie Davenport of Live Bold and Bloom.

“Simplicity. It is a lovely ancient spiritual tradition that has seen a recent resurgence in popularity.  As we try to make sense of our erratic economy and the accompanying financial anxiety, it is natural to leap to a less risky lifestyle extreme — stop spending, scale back, live lean.

“If you are a regular reader of Zen Habits, you are probably intrigued by the idea of simplifying. In fact, you may have even given up many material things and actively live a very simple life. People who have adopted this level of  simplicity, especially in the land of consumerism, are incredibly inspiring and fascinating.

“But let’s be real here. In spite of embracing the concept of simplicity, most people really love their stuff, and they love acquiring more stuff. Like our attitudes about a healthy diet, our feelings about material things are complicated. We know what’s good for us, but we just don’t want to give up what we like. Our stuff makes us feel good.

“Is it possible to live a simple life and still love stuff? How much letting go of stuff really counts toward simplifying anyway?

“Living simply and detaching from material things will make you happier. There is real research and lots of anecdotal evidence to support the truth of this. But is it possible that some material things can add to our happiness, sense of contentment and joy in life? If so, how do you go about deciding what’s good stuff and what’s bad?

“Perhaps the deciding factor is motivation. Do the things that you own or wish to buy support your ego, or do they enliven your soul? Some material things can afford you a sense of warmth, coziness, beauty, fond memories, or comfort. There are other things that offer only that fleeting rush of acquisition.

“If you infuse mindfulness into your ideas and actions around material things, you can create a gentle balance between loving stuff and living simply.

“Here are some thoughts that might be useful.

“1. Look around your house now.

“Walk from room to room. Do you see things that you never use and don’t really care about? Why not give them away or sell them? Clear physical and psychic space by removing the “dead wood” in your environment. Someone else might really need these things.

“2. Examine why you are hanging on to something.

“Is it truly useful or meaningful, or does it feed your ego in some way? Are you holding on to it just to impress others or to make yourself feel better or more important?

“3. Look at how you spend your time.

“Do you have things you own for hobbies that you never pursue? Do you have a kitchen full of gadgets but you rarely cook? If you truly think you will come back to a hobby or activity, box things up and put them out of sight until you do. Be realistic about how much time you have to use your extraneous stuff.

“4. Are you in a career that is thing-focused?

“Decorators, car dealers, retailers and others involved in creating, buying, selling and marketing merchandise, can have a hard time detaching from material things because they are always surrounded by the newest and best. There is beauty and art in many things, but consider this: you don’t have to own them all to appreciate them. Eckhart Tolle once suggested to Oprah Winfrey that she not buy everything she likes or wants — just savor it for the moment in the store.

“5. Consider experiences rather than things.

“On the whole, experiential purchases provide far more pleasure than material purchases. The memory of experiences improves with time, but material purchases are harder to think about abstractly. Experiences also encourage social relationships which provide long-lasting happiness. If you are itching to spend, spend on a great experience with someone you enjoy.

“6. When you think about your things or want to purchase something new, consider these parameters:

  • It brings beauty into your life and stirs your soul.
  • It supports a passion or hobby.
  • It helps bring family and friends together in a creative, meaningful way.
  • It educates and enlightens.
  • It makes life profoundly simpler so that you can pursue more meaningful things.
  • It helps someone who is sick or incapacitated.
  • It is useful and necessary for day-to-day life.
  • It’s part of a meaningful tradition or a reminder of a special event.

“7. You will know you are buying mindlessly if you:

  • Buy on a whim.
  • Buy to impress others.
  • Buy because you feel you deserve it.
  • Buy when you can’t afford it.
  • Buy just to update something that still works or looks fine.
  • Buy because someone else has it and you want it too.
  • Buy because the advertisement seduced you.
  • Buy because you are bored.
  • It’s purchased because buying soothes you.

“It is possible to balance a simpler life with owning and acquiring material things. You can enjoy stuff without living the life of an aesthetic. The exact balance you create is a matter of personal preference. But realize there is a diminishing point of return with accumulation and materialism that undermines authentic joy and fulfillment in life.

“Apply mindful purging to your current lifestyle and belongings, as well as thoughtful consideration to your future purchases. Carefully examine your motivations for keeping possessions or buying new things. Once you allow things serve your soul, rather than you being a slave to your things, your life will evolve into an artful harmony between what you have and who you are.”

Book Review: Shopping for Time

Shopping for Time: How To Do It All and Not Be Overwhelmed by Carolyn Mahaney, et al. 96 pages.

Introduction — “We can accomplish everything God has ordained for us to do in this life. …And we can do it in a peaceful, joyful manner and get sufficient rest besides” (13).

Chapter One — Shopping For Time — You don’t get the best deals at the mall or the grocery store without planning out your attack. Neither can you get through life without shopping for time. Plan your attack, and get the best bang for you buck, metaphorically speaking.

Chapter Two — The First Tip: Rise Early (Joining the 5 AM Club) — Getting up early allows you to plan your day, spend time with the Lord, and serve your family better.

Hints from page 38:

  1. Place your alarm clock in a strategic location, preferably on the other side of the room from your bed.
  2. Set your alarm for the same time every day.
  3. Never, never, never hit the snooze button or lie back down to catch a few more winks. The second your alarm goes off is the most critical moment in getting up early.
  4. Proceed directly to the coffee pot or caffeinated drink of choice.
  5. Be prepared to feel absolutely miserable for about ten to fifteen minutes. But the misery with God and reap the benefits the rest of the day. Fifteen minutes of misery is certainly worth fifteen-plus hours of peace and productivity.
  6. Remember that our bodies eventually respond to a standard wake-up time. In other words, it gets easier.

Chapter Three — The Second Tip: Sit Still (Sitting at Jesus’ Feet) — There are plenty of methods to study the word of God, but all recognize the importance of it. And all focus on getting to know God and becoming more like Him. “Sitting at Jesus’ feet is the essential tip to becoming a true shopper of time. It is not, however, a way to gain or lose God’s approval” (48).

Chapter Four — The Third Tip: Sit and Plan (Taking a Personal Retreat) — The author takes two personal overnight retreats each year. Take time to hit pause! Find a place without distractions and go alone! “It’s really simple. All you need is your Bible and a computer or pen and paper–whichever you’re most comfortable with. Begin by listing your priorities. …Although your list may look slightly different [from the author’s], it’s important that your priorities come from God’s Word and not cultural or personal preferences” (54). “Once you’ve listed your priorities, create a separate page for each one to use as a worksheet. Then evaluate yourself, prayerfully going through the priorities one at a time.

Under each category, assess how you are doing–what is going well and what needs to change” (55). Then pick one to focus on. Don’t try to change everything at once; you’ll get overwhelmed. Just pick one, work on that, and then move on.

Chapter Five — The Fourth Tip: Consider People (Evaluating Relationships Carefully) — Choose “friends who sharpen” (71), “friends who mentor” (72), “friends who need friends” (73), and “friends who need salvation” (73). Then the tough part, see if you have any friends that are bad company and break ties if necessary. Prioritze your relationships: God, family, then friends. Then evaluate each relationship to see how it can glorify God.

Chapter Six — The Fifth Tip: Plan To Depend (Being Productive in Daily Life) — Plan ahead, pick the best time for each task, and take one step at a time. This chapter also gives tips on dealing with interruptions, busy seasons, and inevitable trials. C.J.Mahaney is quoted on page 87, “Only God gets his to-do list done each day. We are not God. We are finite creatures with serious limitations.”

Conclusion — The only cure is Jesus.

This book is on sale at www.sovereigngracestore.com for $9 right now. I would highly recommend this book for anyone feeling overwhelmed with life. It’s a quick, easy read that’s full of value. ~Melissa