It was the Tuesday after Christmas and I was feeling blue about settling back into reality after all the excitement of our first Christmas with Ava. My mother in law had taken Ava that day for me so I could get some things done but I just couldn’t focus on anything. I wanted to work on Real Estate. I also had a ginormous heap of laundry to work on. But everywhere I looked, my house was a mess of clutter and trash. It literally drained me. So instead of working on anything I needed to do, I spent the day resting and watching Netflix.
Luckily, that day, I stumbled upon a documentary called Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things. The documentary helped me realize that this feeling of overwhelming stress, drowning out my ability to even get started on a never ending to-do list had a solution: Get rid of the excess stuff.
Now, Dustin and I aren’t ready to call ourselves Minimalists yet but this movie definitely inspired us to make a drastic life change. At first Dustin was hesitant; he wasn’t sure he wanted to get rid of a bunch of our stuff, especially after Christmas when we spent a boatload of money buying more stuff. But after discussing how this clutter was making me feel, he agreed to start but wanted to ease into it. But by day 2, he was texting me from work, telling me what area he wanted to tackle that night.
It’s now been 3 weeks since we started. We filled up around 40 trash bags and made 2 carloads of donations to Good Will. Our house is cleaner than it’s ever been and we are happier than we’ve ever been. We have less stuff, but we aren’t missing anything.
However, more than just cleaning, this journey has been a time of self reflection and has had me trying to figure out why. Why does having less clutter make me feel so much happier? Why does our society keep trying to force us to feel like we need more, newer, better, material items all the time? How did we get duped into thinking that acquiring new objects would make us feel better when time and experiences are so much more valuable over the course of our lives?
And being business minded, this is what I came up with:
Joy = Profit
In business, profit is the ultimate goal. There’s two ways to fix an unprofitable business. Increase sales or cut costs. Increasing sales less painful but uncontrollable; you can’t force someone to buy and more often than not, it costs money to make money. However, cutting costs is less expensive and in your control but it requires sacrificing so it isn’t as fun or glamorous.
Profit is to business what joy is to life. Ultimately, my goal in life is to enjoy it but there are a lot of people that think that money will bring them joy. I fell prey to this for a long time. I cursed my small house for my clutter; I swore that if we could just make more money and get a bigger house, we’d feel happier. But the problem was, earning more money wasn’t easy and we were in a bad habit of buying more stuff when we did have extra money. On the other hand, to find more joy, you can get rid of the excess stuff, live a little smaller, a little simpler and you will find more time to relax, to think, and to enjoy life. And maybe, just maybe, if you break that addiction to stuff, you might find yourself with more money anyway.
What I’m realizing is that living this way is a journey, not a destination. I am challenging myself to question if an item adds value to my life before I purchase anything. Although Dustin is an expert at what I call “Tetrus organizing,” I refuse to let our amount of stuff we own get to a point where things are difficult to put away again. I will spend time cleaning each day to keep the mess at a manageable level. Most of all, I want to live on the profitable side of joy every day.