I've been reading again.......
Way back during Lent when I decided to de-clutter my life, I came across a little book in Blackwell's bookshop appropriately named 'Stuffocation'. I jotted down the title back then as I had little time for extra 'stuff' or time to read but knew as some point I would try and navigate the pages to see what it had to say on the subject.
Well, back then my 'clear out' went pretty well and I shifted the 40 bags in 40 days (plus more) of unwanted junk that I challenged myself to remove. However, reminding myself of this I stood back at the beginning of the holidays and took a look at my house and some how, it seems....once again.... I am surrounded by THINGS. How could this be? Quite clearly, my good intentions have not morphed....the storing habits of the children haven't helped!
'Stuffocation' has been a real eye-opener. It quite literally looks into how we have become a nation of people surrounded by such an excessive amount of belongings that we are literally being suffocated by them, they are taking over and consuming our lives. It seems that our problems may well have begun way back around the time of the Industrial Revolution when industry created a means of mass producing objects in less time. Mad Men and the advertising crew of the 1950's didn't help either where objects that were once built to last suddenly started to be replaced by objects that had a short lifespan and that needed replacing. The bottom line is related to money. People like having the latest new thing and companies need to keep profits up by creating items that need replacing and updating in order to keep the profits rolling in. I had always thought perhaps our need for things developed as a result of the war years when things were harder to get hold of. People held on to more 'just in case' they should need a spare.
The book goes on to look examine cases of people who have felt so suffocated by their belongings that they have got rid of virtually everything (tempting) and gone off to live in very remote areas living the simple life. In such cases, it seems that most do not stick out such a radical change in lifestyle for long (average of two years) before returning to their former ways.
The buying of 'stuff' does seem to only have short term benefits and doesn't necessarily lead to improved happiness. The new dress for a party never to be worn again, a fancy new bike to replace the old one that just needed a polish. What the book suggests is that the best type of investment is in experiences. Hearing friends talk about a new gadget is far less appealing then hearing someone talking about an amazing experience, plus the lasting memories are more valuable too.
So this week I've been head down once again trying to clear out further unwanted 'stuff'. The motivation has been that the children have swapped bedrooms and I have promised them a make over of sorts. So far the girls are being really rather ruthless in their clearing :-), the boy on the other hand is a different story. I've quite literally had to sneak stuff out when he hasn't been looking and be totally mindful of the fact that on several occasions he's been right behind me sneaking stuff back in again. Whilst trying to locate the TV control yesterday, the girls made the rather disturbing discovery of household rubbish being stored behind the sofa! Shock horror!!!
I was understandably mortified! His explanation.....he's been collecting things to build a space rocket!
The book I've been referring to is available from here or borrow it from the library so as not to add to your belongings!