Sunday Reflections: Love Life, Not Stuff

Sunday Reflections: Love Life, Not Stuff

Before taking off for my weekend away I was unable to write a Sunday reflections post, so I thought I should share an article I read a while back over at Zen Habits, written by Leo Babauta.

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Love Life, Not Stuff by Leo Babauta

We’re in love with stuff — with shopping, with acquiring, with owning, with collecting.

Let’s lust after life instead.

Our obsession with stuff has become unhealthy. When we have a void in our lives, we buy things. When we have problems, we buy things. And these things are becoming more and more expensive, bigger, shinier … more wasteful.

This obsession with stuff leads to owning a lot, having a lot of clutter … and yet this stuff doesn’t fill our lives with meaning.

It leads to deep debt, from buying so much, and needing bigger houses and storage spaces to contain everything. Financially, we’re worse off than ever, because of this obsession with stuff.

We buy things when we’re depressed, we buy things for others to show how much we love them … and in this way, stuff has separated us from actually dealing with our emotions, blocked us from truly connecting with others.

Let’s replace that lust for stuff with a lust for life.

Some ideas:

  • Rediscover a passion for life. Get outside and feel nature, appreciate the beauty of the world around you. Get active, do some gardening or yardwork, play a sport, go for a walk, take a hike, go for a swim, ride a bike. Feel the life coursing through you. Breathe it in.
  • Give experiences as gifts, not stuff. Instead of shopping for someone come birthdays or Christmas, think of an experience you can give them instead. A date with you, doing something fun, hanging out, cooking, playing, talking, exploring. A fun time at a park or beach. Something other than everyday. An experience is much more meaningful than an object.
  • Connect with others. In real life. If you haven’t hung out with a friend recently, give him a call and go hang out. Get your kid away from the TV or video game player and take her outside to do something. Go on a date with your partner. Visit your mom or grandparents. And be present while you’re with them — really listen, really be there.
  • Deal with your emotions. If you have a need to buy things, to shop when you are having emotional issues, be more aware of this. Then deal with the underlying emotions, rather than using shopping as a way to forget about them. If you’re depressed, or anxious, or lonely, deal with those. Find solutions; figure out what’s causing them. Good news: experiencing life, getting active, and connecting with others all help you deal with those emotional issues.
  • Disconnect your attachment to stuff. Sometimes I find myself reluctant to give something up, even if I don’t really use it. And that’s when I ask myself, “Why?” What is holding me back from getting rid of this possession? Sometimes, the item has an emotional connection, but then I realize that it’s just an object, it’s not the emotion or the actual source of the emotion. Then I’ll take a picture of the item, upload it to my computer, and get rid of the object. I feel liberated, because I’ve broken an attachment to a physical object (but saved the memory). If you are attached to an object, figure out why — it’s not healthy in the long run.
  • Realize that life, not stuff, is what matters. Objects are just objects — if you lose them, if they get stolen or destroyed … it’s not a big deal. They’re just objects — not your life. Your life is the series of moments that is steaming through your consciousness right now, and how you use those moments and what you fill them with is what truly matters, not what you fill your home with. At the end of this short journey, you’ll look back and remember your experiences, the people you loved and who loved you back, the things you did and didn’t do. Not the stuff you had.

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In the last two years, I’ve moved from university halls to a house share, to an apartment and then moved back home with my parents’; every time I had to pack up I was always amazed by how much stuff I had accumulated. Each move presented a medium to get rid of some things I hardly use, but even then I found myself hanging on to certain things.

For me making myself comfortable in any location was accompanied by the acquisition of a lot of things. In the past few weeks I have been trying to de-clutter and aiming to live simpler, with less stuff. I’ve made myself distinguish between necessities, luxuries and items of sentimental value. This article really hit home and made me reflect on my stuff.