The guilt of ownership
I’ve been enjoying my journey to simplicity. It’s not always easy. Sometimes I struggle with letting go of some item (or expectation, or relationship, or whatever). But when I manage to let go, it feels great! I feel relieved. I’ve sometimes wondered why I didn’t let go before. What was holding me back?
I’ve also been enjoying writing about it all here, and talking about it with whoever will listen. It’s become a passion! If reading about my journey can inspire you and help you make whatever decision you’ve been having a difficult time making, then that’s a real bonus! But mostly, I’ve been doing it all to improve my quality of life – to help me on my journey.
I’ve notice recently that some of the people around me who’ve been following my journey and talk to me about it seem to feel guilty or apologize for “not being as much of a minimalist as me”. To these people (and whoever else might feel this way), I want to say that you shouldn’t apologize for not making the same life decisions as me. Your journey is your own.
If you’re happy with your situation, then there’s no need to make a change. Let go of the guilty feelings. I’ve been making these changes because I wasn’t happy. I felt overwhelmed, stressed, unhappy, unsatisfied, and even angry with my situation at times.
However, if you do feel guilty, maybe you should ask yourself why… Are you really so happy with your situation? Are your possessions or commitments becoming a problem? Are they getting in the way of your true happiness? Are you really living the life you truly want to live?
The way I justify to myself what I decide to hold on to is by asking these questions:
- Can I afford it? (money or time wise)
- Do I have room for it? (in my physical space or in my life)
- Do I like (love) it? (looking at it, using it, or experiencing it makes me happy)
- Will it be useful to me or good for me? (good for me can just be about it making me happy)
If I can answer “yes” to all of these questions, then to me it’s justified. And in my opinion, these questions apply to items as well as pretty much everything in life (activities, expectations and relationships for example).
Of course this is all very egocentric. You could argue that I could (should) look outside myself a little more and maybe use available resources to give back to others. For example, let's say I own 3 pairs of pants already. All in good condition. I could donate the $60 I would have spent on a new pair of pants - even though I can afford these new pants, I have room for them, I love them, and they'll be useful. Of course I could! But right now, my focus is a little more egocentric. I'm focusing on getting my possessions and consumption under control so that maybe later on I can donate any extra resources (money or time) to a cause other than myself. Until then, I'm making decisions based on the above four questions. Once I feel I've conquered my "demons", or maybe sooner, I might add an extra question. Perhaps: can I put these available resources to better use?
So, dear friend, I won’t think less of you for owning more than 50 items of clothing. (That’s just a random number I came up with.) I won’t think less of you for living alone in a 10-bedroom home. I won’t think less of you for saying yes to every activity or party or event that comes up.
As long as you're not intentionally hurting others, live your life your way, my friend, and may you be happy!