A Chance to See Beyond Oneself
 
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I am very grateful for my new life in Germany. Though it is challenging at times living in new country and learning a new language, it has been very rewarding. I continue to take German classes 5 days a week and work part time for the family I am living with. An important step I needed to take in order to move to Germany was to drastically reduce my number of possessions. I discuss my approach to living with less below.


Living with Less

‘It is preoccupation with possession, more than anything else, that prevents men [and women] from living freely and nobly.’ ~Bertrand Russell

About a year ago, I had a realization - I had too much stuff. And I realized that each possession I owned took a significant amount of time to manage and it kept me from being mobile. So I decided to take a more minimalistic approach and I begun decluttering my life.

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I am not a very materialistic person but surprisingly it took me about a full year to get rid of a lot of it (fortunately I was able to sell much of it). I am now down to about 3 bags of possessions containing about 109 possessions and it feels great (see photo to the left and my List of Possessions below)! Rather than spending my time managing my possessions that typically offer very limited enjoyment, I can spend more time pursuing the goals that are most important to me, such as my recent project of living abroad (see some new photos).

For those who like the idea of living a more minimalistic life, the most important advice I can offer is to consider the time cost of each thing you own and buy.
 
I realized that each of my possessions had a time cost involved that I often did not consider when buying and owning them. Consider the purchasing and owning process. When buying a product, you must decide which product fulfills your perceived need, which offers the best value among similar products, where to buy the it, where to put it in your home, how to best use it, how to maintain it and the time involved in doing so, and how to dispose of it or sell it to gain a return on your investment. The higher the value of the possessions, the more time it takes (obviously this doesn't really apply to non-durable products like food items). This may seem overly analytical to some but the reward of reducing your number of possessions can be incredibly freeing.

Remember: The more things you have, the more time it takes to manage it all.

"By quitting one's own country and dwelling in foreign lands one should acquire practical knowledge of non-attachment." - Dvagpo-Lharje (the great guru Gampopa)




Want to give it a try?

Dematerialize Your Life and Buy Less
  • Spend some time looking around your home and start assessing what you actually use and spend time enjoying
  • Make a list of the 100 things you use most and start getting rid of the rest
  • Donate items for a tax right-off or sell it on craigslist
  • Use this mantra when decluttering your life: "Once it's gone, I'll forget I ever had it."   
  • Before you buy something of significant value, consider if it is absolutely necessary and factor in the time cost
  • Never go to a store without a mental or written list of what you are going to buy - stick to your shopping list
I also highly recommend the book, The Simple Guide to a Minimalist Life



List of Possessions

Besides a few stored items, here is a list of my current possessions (though I may have missed a few things, it's about 109 items total):
1.    Macbook pro
2.    External hard drive
3.    Computer mouse
4.    Keyboard
5.    iPod Nano
6.    USB Hub
7.    Wireless Router
8.    Phone
9.    Phone Headset
10.    Alarm Clock
11.    Camera
12.    Travel Iron
13.    Electrical Adapters (3)
14.    Electrical Converter
15.    Casual Shoes
16.    Running Shoes
17.    Hiking Shoes
18.    Dress Shoes
19.    Sandals
20.    Rain Jacket
21.    Fleece
22.    Winter Jacket
23.    Sweat Shirt
24.    Blue Jeans
25.    Work Jeans
26.    Other Pants (3)
27.    Button-up Short Sleeve Shirt (2)
28.    Button-up Long Sleeve
29.    T-shirts (5)
30.    Undershirts (3)
31.    Work t-shirts (4)
32.    Suit Pants and Jacket
33.    Shorts (2)
34.    Hat
35.    Black Socks (8 pairs)
36.    Ankle Socks (6 pairs)
37.    Boxer Shorts (8)
38.    Belts (2)
39.    Long Underwear
40.    Long Sleeve Undershirt
41.    Snow Gloves with Liners
42.    Fleece Gloves
43.    Beanie
44.    Neck warmer
45.    Scarf
46.    Black Sweat Pants
47.    Quick Dry Towel
48.    Electric Razor
49.    Travel Iron
50.    Bag of Toiletry Items
51.    Bag of Vitamins
52.    Messenger Bag
53.    Large Backpack
54.    Duffle Bag
55.    Small Backpack
56.    Tent
57.    Sleeping Bag
58.    Sleeping Mat
59.    Inflatable Pillow
60.    Umbrella
61.    Neck Cooler
62.    Clean Canteen
63.    Thermos
64.    Silverware Set
65.    Books (6)
66.    Notebook for German classes
67.    Journal
68.    Organizer Folder (2)

See lists from other people that have reduced their number of possessions:
GuyNamedDave
ZenHabits
TheMinimalistPath


Thanks for reading!
Karl
 


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