Updated: Aug 24, 2018
No, the blog is not about demon possession. No need to conjure up visions of "Rosemary's Baby" or 'The Exorcist" or "The Amityville Horror". The blog is about being possessed, but in a different way. Being possessed by our possessions. Perhaps just as demonic? You decide! I do not think it is because I am a Professional Organizer that I notice so much in the news, on the radio, or on the internet about organizing, storage, minimalism or the over-abundance of possessions. I do not think it is a case of being a hammer and seeing everything as a nail. The media's recent focus on the epidemic of over-ownership does not stand out for me just because it is my business. Judging by the sheer number of articles and stories, we really are entering a new era of awareness that buying "things" does not buy happiness.
A quote from Donella Meadows comes to mind, “We don’t need bigger cars or fancier clothes. We need self-respect, identity, community, love, variety, beauty, challenge and a purpose in living that is greater than material accumulation.” How did we stray so far that we forgot that?
Perhaps a look at history will help understand how we have gotten here. We had the Great Depression in which our grandparents saved everything because everything was scarce. After the depression, we had Herbert Hoover promising every American, "A chicken in every pot". Then came World War II with it's ration cards and scrimping because once again everything was precious and scarce.
From there, the fifties brought more affluence, less scarcity. As time went on, many Americans enjoyed prosperity and a level of possession unequaled in times past. Then the Viet Nam era was a time of turbulence on the political front, but still a time of ample access to resources. Time moved forward and with it an unprecedented accumulation of possessions. Finally we have reached the point of Americans not being able to tolerate the level of maintenance and storage their possessions require. Read Patrick Sisson's article on the boom of the storage industry in this country. His subtitle says it all, "One in 11 Americans pays for space to store the material overflow of the American dream"
Most millennials in this country grew up with affluence of all sorts. Parents who had time, money and possessions to bestow on their children like no other generation before. The result in great part: those children want a simpler, less cluttered existence. I love the tongue-in-cheek humor of the cartoon showing an old man leaning on his walker with his son by his side. He is gazing at a garage stuffed with possessions, saying, "Some day, son, all this will be yours."
It is no surprise that millennials don't want their parents' stuff. And some of their parents are beginning to accept the fact that times have changed. The housing downturn of recent years resulted in many young people choosing apartment life over the insecurity of the housing market. The choice to not take on their parents' heirlooms is dictated by lack of space, at the very least. Parents have saved great grandma's china, silver and crystal for the past 30 or 40 years, assuming they would hand all that and more on to the next generation. Many are getting the wake up call that millennials would prefer to choose their own dishes, "thank you very much".
It is not just a question of space. Millennials may be leading the way, as young people so often do, but people of all ages are beginning to question the ownership of so many possessions. We are seeing the surge of a movement toward minimalism, a seemingly urgent need to have less and have less now. I like to give credit to the young, but perhaps this movement is being born, not just in response to the millennials wanting simplicity, but in tandem with their always influential Boomer parents downsizing and recognizing the freedom in that.
How did it take us so long to have it dawn on us that possessions do not produce happiness? Often quite the opposite. If one is in deprivation or the fear of it, possessions are a comfort. If not, possessions are a weight that, in a busy life, cause more effort and work than most want to handle. I agree with Joshua Becker's words from "Becoming Minimalist", when he writes that "When we again hear the simple message there is more joy to be found in owning less than we can find pursuing more, it rings true in our hearts. Deep down, we know possessions don’t equal joy. And we know our life is far too valuable to waste chasing them.
So, where to go from here? Stop letting the things we own, own us. The key is to start possessing only those things we truly love and stop being possessed by the things we do not love. Stayed tuned and subscribe to my blog for upcoming blog posts and tips on how to organize those things we love.
Good luck on your journey,
"Make room for what you love"
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