I Love Stuff. I Hate Stuff.

Pixabay: 999theone, Free for commercial use; no attribution required

I have a love/hate relationship with stuff.   I own too many things.  Not all of it sparks joy, that Marie Kondo test to decide whether to keep something or eliminate it.

I’ve gotten rid of things along the way, but unless I move and have to do a major purge, things flow into my house at a faster rate than they flow out. Having lived in the same place for nearly 20 years, stuff has accumulated.

The percentage of stuff I use regularly is…small.

Some of the stuff is seasonal, stored until the season rolls around again.

Some is aspirational: those pants I’ll fit into once I’ve dropped 10-pounds.

Some is, if I’m brutally honest, fantastical: am I really going to read Daniel Pink’s To Sell is Human or George Lakoff’s Moral Politics?

Continue reading “I Love Stuff. I Hate Stuff.”

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Why and How I Play Mind Tricks

36_Trick Trash_4-15-18My mom, a child of the depression and WWII, is the queen of re-purposing things and making stuff last.  “Use it Up, Wear it Out, Make it Do, or Do Without” was a command she took to heart, proudly demonstrating it to us kids as we grew up.

She made my apron out of re-purposed, retired curtains. My potholders are from sewing project remnants; the interior heat-resistance an old blanket that had seen better days.

Socks with holes? Mom darns them.  Jars and food containers others might throw out? Mom finds new uses for them.

Very few things are ever “single use” in her household.

When she needed a dress for a fancy party—at a time when the budget was slim and had to be creatively stretched—she pulled together some fabric, designed a dress to Continue reading “Why and How I Play Mind Tricks”

Uncluttering Thoughts and Beliefs

20_IdenticalYou know how some people hold onto stuff and others seem to be able to freely let go?

I often have to trick myself into letting stuff go.  Because, you know, stuff is worth something. Especially once I own it.  It’s the endowment effect, “the hypothesis that people ascribe more value to things merely because they own them.”

That’s true for me. My stuff is worth more once it’s mine. The identical item in the store? Not worth as much as mine on my shelf.

My attachment seems to be enhanced if there’s a story around the item: it came from a garage sale; a dear friend gave it to me; I got it on vacation as a trip memento; it was my great-great-grandmother’s; it was a super-bargain. Any and all of those stories burnish the value of the item for me.

Even if I know an item has lived beyond its usefulness, I frequently still hold onto it, often to be reminded of “the story.” Even if it’s in the way or possibly holding me back.

I’m aware of this dynamic when it comes to stuff. Once “stuff” becomes mine, it’s hard to part with. It’s suddenly shinier; prettier; sticky-er.

Recently I started to wonder if this tendency applies not only to things, but also to thoughts and beliefs.

Continue reading “Uncluttering Thoughts and Beliefs”