I spent the day today decluttering a friend’s house.  We spent six hours in her bedroom and culled out three contractor bags full of clothes. We found about $15 in random coins.  We swiffered the walls.  I was in heaven.

I love to throw things away.  Well, actually, to get stuff out of the house and donate it or recycle it. Creating more trash actually kind of agitates me.  Call me freakish, but the chance to spend an hour shredding outdated contents of my files brings me joy. For a while, I tried to hold myself to “bring in one new thing, get rid of two old things” standard.  I’m not prepared to do the 100 things challenge — partly because my life doesn’t really work with that construct and partly because I can’t part with my Le Creuset cookware, amongst other things– but it does have me thinking.

I also happen to be reading a book called Less by Mark Lesser.  I am not done with it and have no recommendation either way on it. Lesser focuses on doing less, being in the moment, recharging yourself to be more effective, etc. etc.  All advice most of us have heard before.

So here’s what I’m pondering– if less is good for you (in this context), what happens when you don’t have less?  What happens when you have too much? You are featured on Hoarders or you have a nervous breakdown from trying to maintain a frenetic 23-hour-a-day schedule?  Obviously, most of us don’t go to that extreme, but neither do most of us live with just 100 things or meditate peacefully on a mountaintop.  But at what point does having and doing stop bringing contentment and start generating stress?  My friend with the contractor bags full of clothes says that she feel overwhelmed and out of control. That’s not surprising at this point, but how can we see when we are getting close to “that point”?

I’m not here to preach, but I want to put it out there– what happens to the essential stuff when the non-essential stuff encroaches on it?  How much is enough? Discuss amongst yourselves– or comment below.  And, do you also love the thrill of getting rid?

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  • Grace  On February 17, 2010 at 6:46 pm

    I am with you! I love to de-clutter/recycle. I figure if I have not used it in a year then it can go, although on occasion I am too quick to toss stuff. Words I try to live by, “What you don’t have, you don’t need it now.” Do you recognize the song lyrics?

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