Everyday Extraordinary: To Keep or Not to Keep?

Everyday Extraordinary: To Keep or Not to Keep?

By Jessie Hess


Photo: Jessie Hess

In the last couple of years there has been a lot of buzz around minimalist living and it is no surprise as we humans are masters of accumulation: Clothes, books, papers, knick-knacks, stuff and more stuff. While many on the planet do not have enough, often our challenge is to practice not having too much. Accumulation is a process that happens right under our noses without realizing, then one day we stop and look around and say “where did all this crap come from”? Life moves forward and stuff piles up! Underneath it all we carry the burden of tending to our over-accumulation. We can feel heavy, bogged-down and even depressed at the prospect of dealing with our stuff. Even if our items are stuffed under beds, in closets and packed in boxes, there is a energetic weight that unneeded, unwanted objects carry. It feels so good to let go. It is truly amazing. Energy frees up and is redirected into more beneficial channels and life feels (and is) more spacious.

My family and I have always been interested in living with with less. We have adopted some practices that help us weed away at the excess of our life. When our daughter was 8 years old we went six months without buying anything. Of course this was defined by spending money on only essential items. We spent a great many family dinners quizzing and challenging each other about what is essential and what is not. Mom’s yoga mat? Yes. Dad’s road bike? Yes. Replacing the broken toaster? Nope. Eventually we made it through our six months and it was a very cool experience. Not only did we not accumulate as many non-essentials but we also purged a great deal. This was our favorite part. Closets were emptied, walls striped of art work,shelves de-knick-knacked,  books sorted through, kitchen tools reduced to function and stuffed animals given away. A by-product of this purging is not only energetically lightening your load, but also the joy of watching others get seriously stoked on old unappreciated stuff.


There are many blogs, books and websites that give inspiration to par-down possessions. Below are 3 recommendations that feel timeless and encompass the many facets of the “letting-go” process.

1. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of De-Cluttering & Organizing. By Marie Kondo
2.Your Money or Your Life: 9 Steps to Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Achieving Financial Independence. By Vicki Robin & Joe Dominguez
3. Not Buying Anything. Blog

Here are some of my tips, from experience that can get you moving in the right direction:

1. Whatever your de-cluttering goals are, do it with family members and/or friends in order to root each other on during the process.

2. Play the “essential, not essential” game to challenge yourself and others. This will help shape your priorities.

3. When in doubt, throw it out! If an item seems to be weighing you down when you think about it, see it or touch it, out it goes.

The experiment of not buying anything essential for 6 months coupled with purging possessions made space for us as a family as well as individually to investigate our relationship with tangible items. What we found is that most items really do not make life better. Everyone must find there own balance between having too much and not enough. For us, we have no cable (just a screen with the ability to watch movies), one car, I have no cell phone, and only the most precious items hang on our walls. For the most part our drawers are not jammed or closets over-flowing. Perhaps you too will find that clearing your clutter and living with less will help make your everyday more extraordinary.