A Journey to Less

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

For the last few years I have tried to practice the ‘less is more’ approach. Meaning that I have been trying to own less, buy less, and worry about less, i.e. minimalism. Taco meat

Rewind a few years. Right out of high school and early into my college years, I spent all of my time trying to earn money, and all of money buying stuff. I bought computers, video games, clothes, food, drinks, phones, phones, and more phones. I was consumed with things, always having the newest thing.

The summer of 2012 was truly an eye opener for me. I had just finished junior college and was moving on to university. Moving to a new town and a new home was stressful. I had so much stuff, I didn’t know how to move it all myself. Combine that with my ever growing stress level, I wasn’t happy.

This is when I decided to scale it down. A couple of weeks before the move, I decided I would get rid of enough possessions so that I could move everything I owned in a Ford Escort, minus my bed. I donated, sold, and threw out more than half of my things. And at the end, I met that goal. Two weeks later, I moved in just my Escort and a shared moving truck with three others.

That experience began the last five years of my life, at least that’s what it feels like. I’ve tried to continuously live by that mantra. Every time I’ve moved, I’ve aimed at moving in just the car that I owned, and whatever my bed went in (thanks uHaul). I’ve moved a lot. Sometimes three times year. Some of those moves I’ve succeeded in that goal, some I’ve failed.

Then this last year I decided I was going to move to New York. I decided I was only going to take what I could fit in my car, nothing else. No bed, or dresser, no desk, no chairs. Just the things I could fit into the doors of the car. I told my friends and family. They wanted to know a lot of things, asked many questions. But one of the most asked was: “How are you going to get everything there”? Telling them I was moving in just my car always brought the same response: “I could never move with just a car”.

I found it a freeing experience. In fact one of the greatest opportunities in my life. Months before moving out east, I began the process of slimming down. I really got the chance to examine every individual item I owned and decided if I really needed it in my life. When the day came to move, I only had the following to bring with me:

  • 4 boxes of stuff (filled with all kinds of things)
  • 1 tote
  • 2 backpacks
  • 1 desktop computer
  • 2 monitors
  • 2 bags of clothes
  • 1 cat
  • 1 litter box
  • Every thing in my pockets

That was it. And it was amazing. And since then I’ve remove about a quarter of the clothes, one box of stuff, and one monitor that I had brought with me to New York. I have acquired some things as well (mainly a bed and frame), but for the most part I probably own a tenth of the stuff I had near the end of my years in junior college.

This is all to say that I am one of the lucky few who has been capable of increasing happiness and decreasing stress by just owning less. I know that this isn’t something that most are interested in trying. The appeal of owning a lot and having everything you want is strong. But I urge everyone to try walking a journey of less.