Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Benefits of the 100 Things Challenge

Why would I want to reduce the amount of stuff I own? Well, there is the obvious cost of shipping it, and I find that most people don't really start getting rid of a substantial proportion of their stuff until they have to pay to move it. As the billions of dollars spent on storage units shows, many people don't get rid of stuff even if they have nowhere to put it.

Even if we do discard a third of our random stuff when we move, irrational creatures that we are, we promptly start replacing it.

Why do we do that? As I said in my first post on this topic, because we've bought into the idea that "excess equals success".  It's the old idea of "He who dies with the most toys wins" - which I have always thought was stupid. Hey, if you're dead and I'm not, I'm pretty sure that I won. Think about it as if you are judging a judo match. One person is dead but has a much more expensive judo gi. Who do you think won? Well, I'm pretty sure it's not the dead guy.

The advantages of having less stuff

The more stuff you have, the harder it is to find what you really want in the clutter of the things you don't need or even use. It's like trying to find a needle in a haystack, or one specific needle in a needle stack.

Reducing what I own to 100 things (or so) has made me focus on:
  • What are the things that make a difference in my life, like glasses? Just identifying the things that make a real difference makes me grateful, for example, that I live in a time when my vision can be corrected well enough to let me do almost anything. I have a phone that I can carry around and call anyone, anywhere in the world. That's pretty amazing. I think I'll keep that.
  • What are the things I don't care about that much, that are just in the way? Thinking that I can only take 100 things made it easy to get rid of a few dozen right off the bat. "Well, if I can only take one pair of dress shoes, it isn't going to be these!" 
  • What are the things I like best? If I can only end up taking 7 or 8 shirts with me and wearing each one four times a month, you'd better believe those are going to be shirts that are comfortable. I'll bet most people have some clothes that don't fit that well, either because you gained/ lost weight or they never fit in the first place because they were a gift or bought when you were drunk or high (oh, no, I didn't mean you would do that, I meant some other people).
Here is a kind of ironic fact - initially, having fewer things may mean I go shopping. I realized that I have a lot of clothes that once belonged to one of my children (because I do hate to shop) and, for example, I may not have 5 pairs of pants that fit perfectly and are not well-worn but, hey, I have 15 pairs of pants so why buy any more. 

Reducing the amount of stuff you own makes you evaluate what matters to you. Am I going to bring a judo gi to Chile? I expect most of my time to be spent working on 7 Generation Games, creating games for the Latin American market. I know many people in their sixties and seventies who are still practicing, studying and teaching judo, and good for them. However, just like people who were good basketball, soccer or football players in their twenties, many judo players give it up and go on to focus on their careers and families.  Right now, I'm thinking that I probably won't be doing judo in Chile because I don't expect to have much free time.

It's funny how focusing on your stuff can cause you to focus on your other choices in life as well.

Heading out to Missouri in a few hours, then to North Dakota. If you want to meet up to talk about judo, reducing the clutter in your life, video games or just drink beer (or coffee if it's early), give me a holler.

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