Prioritizing Experiences & Eliminating Possessions

For the month of November, I’ll be participating in BootsnAll‘s Indie Travel Challenge.  Click here to go to the beginning.  Unlike some travel challenges, this isn’t just answering questions – as you’ll see below.

How is having experiences better than having possessions?

Experiences and possessions both bring joy, but in different ways.  Think back to childhood… perhaps there was a toy you’d always wanted (Skydancers anyone?), but after you finally got it, it was far less interesting.  During that same time, an experience – a trip to the beach, acting in the school play, your first concert – had all of the lead-up excitement and then continued to entertain afterwards.  I still feel a certain nostalgic happiness when I think back on some of my favorite experiential memories, yet I’m not as enamored when I think of once-treasured possessions.  In sum: despite all logic to the contrary, experiences last longer (in memory!).

That was easy.  Now to the more challenging part.

Go through your stuff and pick out 3 items to give away/donate.
Instead of choosing three individual items to give away, I chose three buckets: winter gear, books, and unused cosmetics (new, of course!).  This made it harder, since I felt like choosing three bottles of lotion was cheating.

Ciao, clutter.
Ciao, clutter.

How do you feel giving away your stuff?

I mostly feel good – this stuff was basically clutter anyway! My hat/glove box has been overflowing for a while, and I don’t even wear most of this stuff – yet I keep it.  Since I do consumer testing for cosmetics (hey, free makeup!), I end up with a lot of extra product (hey, free makeup!).  Frequent travel has resulted in my Kindle ownership, but I tend to hang on to any physical books I obtain (despite lacking a bookcase).  I will admit – choosing which book to give away was a little hard.  Ultimately, I went with a 600-page tome that I’ll never reread.

What has this taught you about what you can/can’t live without?

When you’re settled in one place for a long time, you acquire things.  It finally seems like a good time to upgrade your pots and pans, or you receive artwork as a gift.  It’s an investment in your home.  This makes it harder to see the truth: you don’t need all of this stuff, and it can actually be harmful.  Owning too much stuff means you need a bigger place, which is more expensive! Despite understanding this, I still face this challenge regularly.  I know I can live without most of my possessions, and need to be more diligent about paring my belongings down to the essentials.  If I don’t even use it, time to toss.

Have you learned anything from this experience?

I used to think I was immune to clutter.  When I was younger, I made a vow not to hoard items for their sentimental significance, because I saw firsthand how problematic that could be.  I’m pro-experience, anti-possession.  Yet I found this challenge difficult, because there always seemed to be a good reason to keep something around.  The truth of the matter is if I was on a long trip right now, I wouldn’t miss 95% of the things in my apartment–and that’s important to remember.

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2 Comments

  1. First, yayyyyyy for you blogging again.
    Second, I loved this: “I still feel a certain nostalgic happiness when I think back on some of my favorite experiential memories, yet I’m not as enamored when I think of once-treasured possessions. In sum: despite all logic to the contrary, experiences last longer (in memory!).”

    🙂

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