Everyone has some stress in their life. We all worry about something. Sometimes it’s the bad kind of stress like…”Is that bump a tumor?”. Other times it’s a less stressful…errrr…stress. For example…”Should I have the shrimp or the scallops?”. The trick is to reduce the amount of worry and stress in one’s life as much as possible. Which can be a stressful exercise in itself, but follow along anyways. No need to stress about the finer points here. The big question is what do you worry and stress out about? Money, career, health? Or do you stress out about stuff, possessions, all that crap you own or feel like you need to own?
How often do you worry about your stuff? Do you worry about the condition of your house? Stress about termites, storm damage, fire, or repairs? How about the car? Do you worry over every little scratch and ding? Does that strange sound you hear when you are driving keep you awake at night? What about all your other possessions, furniture, appliances, all of it? Do you worry about keeping it in good shape? When you go away do you worry about it getting stolen or damaged? Of course you do. You paid good money for all that stuff. Which begs the question, do you have any bad money and what exactly do you spend it on? Don’t stress about it, you can answer later.
And how would you fare in a disaster? Suppose you lost absolutely everything? A fire, a storm, whatever. Could you handle the loss? What would you do then? Grab the insurance check and start consuming again? Replace it all and be right back where you started? Would you be one of those hysterical crying refugees clutching a broken picture frame in front of a tv camera sobbing your eyes out wondering how you will ever rebuild your life again? Or would you be like me, threatening to shoot the first fireman who so much as points a water hose in the direction of the flames, all the while dancing around in your pajamas hollering, “I’m free! I’m free!”.
The point I’m trying to make here is that if you own a bunch of stuff, a house, a car, all the rest, and you find yourself stressed and worried about keeping it all and maintaining it all, then in reality, all that stuff owns you. If all of your free time is spent obsessing and worrying about holding onto all your stuff, well number 1. You ain’t got no free time. And B. Maybe it’s time to give minimalism a closer look.
As I often do, let me use my own experience as an example. Right now, everything I own is contained with in an 18′ x 12′ apartment. Aside from the two cats, everything I would take if I were to move would fit in a small backpack. Assuming I survived without injury, a disaster like a fire, a hurricane, whatever would have very little effect on my life. I can, with out much fuss and bother, replace everything I own and need in about 24 hours. Everything. With the money I have in the bank. Other than having to find another place to live, losing everything would be no more than a minor nuisance. I’m not bragging here…just kidding, I’m bragging here, but I am totally serious when I say I have nothing to lose, at least in terms of material possessions. But it wasn’t always like this.
Back in the days of yore when I had a house, a vehicle, expensive motorcycles, losing something was always a worry. The Harley’s in particular were a constant source of worry. Going someplace and parking it was a cause for concern as theft of these motorcycles is quite high. Go to any biker hangout and watch, as non intrusively as possible, and you’ll see that virtually everyone who rode in on a motorcycle will frequently step outside to, “check on the bike”. While its real cool to own a nice motorcycle like that, the stress and worry of keeping, maintaining, and protecting it can really wear you down. It’s why bikers have a reputation for being rather surly on occasion.
Having everything I own contained inside my apartment means I sleep a whole lot better at night. If I hear a noise or voices outside in the parking lot I’m not concerned somebody is trying to break in or steal my vehicle. When I travel I’m not worried if somebody breaks into my home. There’s nothing to steal. In fact, they may take pity on me and leave some money or maybe some cat food. (The crunchy kind please, no canned stuff). That’s not to say I mind a break in. I’ve been robbed before and it ain’t a fun time. But at least now, I don’t have to worry about losing stuff because none of my stuff is valuable enough to worry about. As for things like personal papers, all that is digitally stored online so it’s all recoverable if I need it.
As for maintenance? Well, there is hardly any now. Tear a shirt? Grab the needle and thread. Flat tire on the bike? Just a $7 repair I can do myself in about 15 minutes. Beyond that, there ain’t much more to do. Not having stuff frees me up for more important things like catching sunset down at the square or riding around watching the tourists. And what do I stress about? The usual things. Money of course, or the lack there of. What the hell to write about on the blog, or rather the four blogs, the Squidoo lens, and whatever other online adventure I am currently involved in. But that’s stuff I don’t mind stressing about. That’s the stuff that is important to me right now. I’m not concerned about the price of gas, getting an oil change on the jeep, or repairing the shingles on the roof. I’m not dreading spending another weekend performing mindless chores and projects just to keep the house up to speed. That sort of thing is not important to me and I’ve been able to eliminate it from my lifestyle. That is what in effect, minimalism is about. Reducing the clutter, the possessions, the stuff that causes you worry and stress. Eliminating that which prevents you from focusing on what is important in your life or preventing you from fulfilling your dreams.
Sure, I’m on the hardcore side of minimalism. My last inventory showed about 70 items. I’m in the extreme. But, that’s me. You ain’t me. What ever level you decide to be with a minimalist lifestyle is what works best for you. If it’s nothing more than downsizing to a smaller house, getting rid of the car, or cleaning out the closets, and it results in you sleeping better at night and dropping your blood pressure down because you no longer stress about material things, then that’s a good thing. A very good thing.
So stop with the stress. Quit worrying. Downsize to your comfort level. It’s not a tumor! Try the combo platter. Minimalize and start enjoying life again.
Less is more.