When is Enough Stuff Enough?
I had a life-changing epiphany. It was on May 27, 1978 in the wee hours following opening day of Atlantic City’s first casino, Resorts. My then-boyfriend and I were there until the casino closed (pre-24-hour operation). We drove around Atlantic City, just off the main roads. I was stunned and distressed to find deplorable living conditions — slums. I felt guilty about all I had and didn’t fully appreciate.
My epiphany? I would never again complain about things I didn’t have – I had everything I needed and much of what I wanted.
I’ve kept that promise. In fact, a few years ago I stopped buying stuff I didn’t need and avoided shopping centers. Maybe it was due to organizing and downsizing other people’s stuff, sometimes massive amounts. Or because I didn’t want more stuff. Probably both, plus Pareto’s 80/20 Rule: We use 20% of our things 80% of the time.
I don’t mean to sound like Scrooge. If you’re OK with your amount of stuff, have enough space, can afford and enjoy buying new things, and your life is not negatively impacted, that’s great!
But if you feel as I do, walk around your house, take a mental inventory and ponder these questions before buying more things.
- Will you use it and, if so, often enough to justify its purchase?
- Can you afford it?
- Do you have a specific place to put it?
- Will you take proper care of it?
- Do you/your kids need it or want it?
- Are you comfortable with the example you’re setting for your kids?
- Will your partner be OK with it?
- Do you shop to pass time?
- Are you trying to fill an emotional void?
- Do you place too much importance on things?
- Do your things control you and how you live?
Now when I shop for something new (who doesn’t like new things?), I focus on my goal and try to avoid aimless browsing – you know, how guys shop. I discovered it’s liberating being free from societal and marketing pressures to buy more, or the latest whatever, to be happy. You too can buck the gotta-have-more, gotta-have-it-now mentality with a change in perspective. You can do it yourself or I can help you.
I am truly happy with the many beautiful things I own. I have more than some and less than others. But I have enough. I’ll never own an Aston Martin and I’m OK with that.