At the beginning of the year, I challenged myself to read 90 books in 2017, which is three more than I read last year. I’ve made a strong start and have even been able to branch out from my normal fiction favourites into a very different area.
I’ve never been a ‘self-help’ book person but a couple have jumped out at me whilst perusing the Amazon shelves. I started with The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k by Sarah Knight. Nothing too revolutionary here as I already am quite good at not giving a f**k on a variety of things, but it did make me feel better about my attitude. Knight argues that it is possible to not care about something but be polite about it as well – that was mainly my issue as I was forever worrying that saying no would make me come across as a bitch.
The book was of course a parody of Marie Kondo‘s similarly named book, although it does have invaluable lessons to take away from it as well as being very funny. I actually considered getting the Kondo book next but instead went for James Wallman’s Stuffocation.
Living in a tiny house with only 5 rooms, Husband and I have fallen into the trap of owning a lot of stuff. I assign a lot of emotion and attachment to random crap, so it has been quite hard for me to purge in the past. A CD collection which I have not added to in around 10 year – I have them all digitally but can’t get rid of the CDs. Same for DVDs. I have 6 duvet sets but only one bed. Boxes of shoes that only get worn once a year. A cabinet in the living room full of… actually, I don’t know what’s in that cabinet as I never open it.
In short, I have too much stuff.
In an ideal word, I would love to embrace minimalism but I have never thought it was doable in the real world so automatically turned way from it. That’s what initially drew me in to Stuffocation – it highlights that minimalism is “too negative, too reductive”. “…if stuff is so good, why would anyone join a movement that says you should have as little of it as possible?”.
Wallman instead values experientialism – a system where experience is the source of knowledge and which he believes can relieve stress and anxiety. It’s led me to really consider purchases and culminated in a trip to Ikea where I bought literally nothing. I think this is the first time that’s ever happened.
Stuffocation has allowed me to become more mindful when wielding my debit card, and yes, I have started to get rid of my CDs and DVDs. I’ve had trips to the tip, to the charity shop, and I’ll shortly start ebaying. And I do already feel better for it.
There are some things excluded from my stuffocation policy but I argue that I will always need:
- Tatty Devine jewellery – you can pry my collection from my cold dead hands
- Mr Jones Watches – ditto
- Clothes and shoes for work – I do have a lot of ‘fancy’ dresses which I could never wear at work so I’ll stop buying those, but I do need look fairly put together for work
- Beauty items – I need to clean my face!
Next time I’m in a shop, I will think “do I really need this, will it get used?” and maybe I’ll save enough money to have a lovely summer trip, spend on experience rather than stuff.
Just don’t look in my suitcase when I come back from New York.