Guest Post: Accumulation is a Form of Attachment

Each week I will be posting a guest post from someone who has simplified his/her life.
This week, Leighton Herdson tells us about simplifying his life to 1 laptop, a guitar and 2 bags of clothes.

Leighton Herdson is a career, business and life coach based in the UK. He believes that reaching our goals is often about removing certain things rather than adding more. He helps individuals and companies organise and simplify their lives in order to get what they really want. Contact Leighton on Twitter @lherdson or on his website www.herdsoncoaching.com

How would you describe your simple-living lifestyle?

I call it the good life. I just keep it simple and it doesn’t have to be more complicated than that. I have what I need, I always assess what I have with a simple formula: Do I actually ever use this? If no, do I really need it? I don’t think that the “maybe it’ll be useful one day” is a good enough reason to keep clutter. The mindset of accumulating stuff is just a form of attachment. This causes stress and anxiety and most of all a feeling of needing “stuff” rather than real happiness.

What was the one significant moment that made you realise you needed to simplify?

on the road jack kerouak When I was a student I moved 6 times in 3 years. The first 2 time I had SO much stuff that it took ages with my small 3 door hatchback car. Even with the help of friends I just had so much stuff, like most people do.

I moved for a third time and had finished reading a Jack Kerouac book called On The Road. I decided before I moved again I’d give away as much as I could, whether to friends or charity shops. The rest I’d sell. Anything left over got thrown away. I went on to move a number of times since then and could fit all my stuff in one car (1 laptop, a guitar, 2 bags of clothes)

What has been the biggest, positive effect(s) on you through living a simpler life?

When you let go of attachment to “things” you realise that you live life in a lighter, happier way. You notice that you need less to make you happy. The biggest pay off for me is knowing what’s most important to me and feeling less attached to things that have no real value.

Any words of recommendation for those thinking of simplifying?

Give it away to family and friends, this makes you feel good and helps others out.

If you don’t use it, you don’t need it. If you haven’t used the item for 6 months or more you could probably live without it. So try.if you own a rug you own too much jack kerouak

Has Leighton’s simplifying story inspired you?

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Simple Things I Used to Take for Granted

There are so many things in our daily life that we take for granted. We’ve got used to these things; we feel as if they’re a right, not a privilege. Since breaking my wrist and not being able to do anything with my left hand for a month now, I’ve realised how many simple things from our daily lives are actually blessings; they bring us joy every day and we don’t even notice!

Here are the blessings I look forward to having again when my wrist heals:

baking cooking cake

Cooking. I love making a delicious meal, especially if it’s dinner for my family. I love trying new recipes and inventing new ones.I feel like I’ve lost a means of expression and creation by not being able to peel, cut and grate (or even open a can of tomato sauce).

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girl riding bike

Cycling. Ah, the joy of riding a bike on a warm spring afternoon…too dangerous for a girl with fragile bones.

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manicure silver nail polish

Manicure. Neat nails are an essential part of a woman’s hygiene. But we need two hands to do a manicure!

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woman shower washing hair

A proper shower. Having a shower with one hand isn’t easy. Or enjoyable. I can’t wait to be able to scrub and exfoliate properly again!

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elegant style

Wearing normal clothes. For a month I couldn’t fit my cast into a sleeve. So I had to wear t-shirts and my partner’s baggy hoodies wherever I went. Not my usual style. At all. My new pretty shirts still have their price tags on.

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typing laptop pretty nails

Typing. Ever tried typing with one hand? It’s slower and more laborious. Sometimes, I think ‘urgh’ when I realise I have to type something, because what was once natural with ten fingers has now become an effort five only five.

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multitasking

Multitasking. I usually multitask while I’m on the phone. I make tea, check e-mails and tidy up while waiting for customer service to answer. I can also quickly get any paper or information they need. With one hand I must simply wait for them to pick up and have all my documents ready in advance!

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waitress carrying tray with drinks

Carrying more than one thing at once. It takes a while for me to bring back the plates and glasses and food and seasoning from the dinner table…

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yoga on beach

Yoga. Probably the saddest thing about having a broken wrist. I can live without manicures, I can accept wearing baggy clothes, I can even enjoy being cooked for. But not being able to do yoga?! I feel like my body has aged by ten years since I’ve stopped stretching and twisting and moving.

 Do YOU take any daily blessings for granted?

Guest Post: I Gained Financial Freedom by Working Less

Every week, I will be inviting a simple-living lover to share their lifestyle with us. For the first of the series, here’s Nancy’s journey into simplicity…

Nancy is a freelance writer, living in Florida, who abandoned the practice of law (after 13 years as a civil litigator).  You can visit Nancy at Spirit Lights The Way:  www.nrhatch.wordpress.com

How would you describe your simple-living lifestyle?

As I read Simplify Your Life by Elaine St. James, I made notes of changes that I wanted to make in my life. (I also bought copies of the book for everyone on my Christmas list that year. I wanted to share with friends and family what I viewed as true wisdom . . . Less is More.) simplify your life elaine st james

My husband and I went to work to create the life that we wanted to live. We started with simple changes, then moved on to bigger challenges.

Among other things, we jettisoned much of the clutter that was filling our lives; we moved from the crowded suburbs of Philadelphia to a much smaller home on an island in the Chesapeake Bay (and then moved to Florida); we sold our camper and started to take time to enjoy sunsets and beauty from our own backyard; we switched from jobs that were “time hogs” to part-time positions which allowed us to live life on our terms; we traded larger paychecks for more time;and we simplified our eating habits by becoming vegetarians who “eat in” more often than we “eat out.”

By eliminating things that are not important to you, you find time for the things that really matter.

What was the one significant moment that made you realise you needed to simplify?

We had a minor flood in the basement and had to empty out the smallest room in the house to replace the carpet. As the pile of books, sports gear, recreational equipment, furniture, etc., piled up in the adjoining room, it hit us: we have too much stuff!

Since then, we’ve made a concerted effort to downsize our belongings – shedding the extraneous and keeping only the essential.

What has been the biggest positive effect on you through living a simpler life?

Financial Freedom.

When I stopped practicing law, many of the attorneys I had worked with over the years expressed a desire to do the same.  Around the same time, an ABA (American Bar Association) survey reported that  70% of all attorneys would quit practicing law the next day . . . IF they had the financial means to do so.  But, by living the American Dream, they had mortgaged their future by spending more than they earned and running up debt that chained them to their desks.simple living enjoying life

Most of the changes we made to simplify our lives resulted in a general “downsizing”; having less stuff allowed us to buy a smaller house (with a smaller mortgage and lower real estate taxes and property insurance), becoming vegetarian led to smaller grocery bills, making better purchasing decisions (i.e. canceling newspapers and magazines we didn’t read and not buying stuff we didn’t need) saved money too.

Any words of recommendation for those thinking of simplifying?

True wealth has nothing to do with the clothes we wear, the car we drive, or the size of our house.  True wealth means having enough money AND TIME to do the things we love with the people we love.

The less we have to distract us . . . the more time we have to live!

Nancy’s recommended resources:

Simplify Your Life by Elaine St. James

Your Money Or Your Life by Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez.

Want to share your simple-living story on My Light Bag? E-mail me at polinawriting [at] gmail.com

Think You Need It? Think Again.

There are some things we claim we couldn’t live without. Our phone, our laptop, our comfy shoes, our best trousers, that shirt for all occasions, our diary. They’re the first things we pack when we go on a trip and the first things we use when we come back home. But are they really indispensable?

I recently had to unexpectedly leave all of these ‘vital’ possessions in my family home and come home without them (I live 640 miles away from my family). I really thought I couldn’t live without my best clothes, my laptop and my beauty products. I thought I’d lose all sense of identity and integrity. I thought I’d left behind the most important things I owned.

I thought wrong.

In the past month that I’ve been living without these things, I’ve needed none of them. I’ve used another laptop, worn other clothes and have gone without using beauty products. I haven’t thought about them or missed them.

We often think that some things are irreplaceable. We’re scared to throw them away in case we’ll need them later. We think we will never find anything like them again. Truth is – we won’t need them or look for them or even think about them ever again. Everything is replaceable. (And if it’s isn’t, you’ll keep it in your memory forever, anyway.)

woman throwing rubbish away

Do you keep things you don’t use because you’re scared you’ll need them in the future?

 

Is your home an accurate external reflection of you?

In March, the Los Angeles Times published a fascinating article about the effect of possessions on our lives. Here are my favourite quotes:

The average U.S. household has 300,000 things, from paper clips to ironing boards.

U.S. children make up 3.7% of children on the planet but have 47% of all toys and children’s books.

messy toy room with too many toys

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Full bookshelves say, ‘I’m well-read. I have lots of books.’ But really, you just buy books.

bookshelves full of books home library

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I don’t think stuff is inherently wrong or bad […] but if things have become obstacles to your happiness, that’s a problem.

woman crushed too much stuff

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I cleaned out my fridge, and now I can change careers.

snoopy happy dancing

Do you use things to make you  appear to be a certain way (such as with books and intelligence)?

What effect does decluttering have on you?

 

Simple, Old-Fashioned Things I Love Doing

Although I’m not very old, there are a few old-fashioned things I love doing…

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Sending letters and postcards
(Yes, that’s right – handwritten via the post!)

woman-writing

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Borrowing books from the library
(Yes, libraries still exist and yes, people still go there)

girl reading book in library

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Playing card and board games
(It’s more fun to play together than alone on a computer)

playing cards old

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Copying out my favourite quotes
(Into a pretty notebooks)

pretty notebook

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Smelling flowers
(How can we miss out on such joy?)

woman smelling-flowers

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Stopping to look at the sky
(If I’m with somebody, they always ask “What are you doing?”)

looking at the sky sunset sea

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Resting on Sundays
(We all need a day of joy in the week)

coffee tea cup magic dreaming forest nature

What simple, old-fashioned things do YOU love doing?

The house needs hoovering? Oh well.

I’ve had a broken wrist for two weeks and have had to learn new ways of looking at things, and by things I really do mean things.

You see, I can’t cook or clean or do the dishes or fold clothes or hang up the washing. One of my arms is immobile for six weeks in a plaster cast. So the activities I usually do regularly to ensure cleanliness and order in my home are impossible to me now. My partner takes care of these things when he’s at home, but let’s just say that my lack of contribution to home chores is nevertheless visible.

The things that I would usually tidy or wash or clean or put away, I now have to leave alone. And I understood within the first few days of being ‘house chore-free’ that all I can do to do have a serene and peaceful six weeks is….to say “Oh well”.

The dishes are dirty? Oh well, I can’t do them anyway.

There are clothes lying around in random places? Oh well, I can’t put them away anyway.

The washing has been ‘drying’ for four days? Oh well, I can’t fold it anyway.

The shutters have been closed all day in the bedroom? Oh well, I can’t open them anyway.

This ‘oh well’ attitude is surprisingly therapeutic! Instead of fretting over having a perfectly ordered home every day, I shrug the imperfection off and occupy myself with other activities. In this way, I also accept my partner’s way of doing things around the house and show him gratitude for all he does without demanding him to do things my way.

‘Oh well’ may just be the best treatment for perfectionism!

The house needs hoovering? Oh well.

The house needs hoovering? Oh well.

Pack and Live Lighter

A few days ago I arrived back in London after nearly nine months of constant travel, and I now find my new self in my old place. The thing that strikes me, apart from the greyness of the skies, is that I’m surrounded by just so much stuff: books I don’t remember having, clothes I haven’t missed, furniture barely used. […] Whatever was I thinking? […]

“Before undergoing a serious surgical operation,” the French writer Victor Hugo once said, “put your affairs in order — you may survive.” Perhaps we should learn from this when we are packing for a trip. Don’t just think about what to pack — pay attention to what you’re not taking with you as well. Because eventually you have to come back to it.

~ From Is it time to pack – and live – lighter? by Ben Hammersley

stacked-suitcases

You Have Enough

Yes, that’s right. You have enough. Enough comfort, because you can read this post using a computer and the internet. Enough luxury, because you can indulge in your interest for blogging. Enough safety, because you are reading a blog about cultivating a higher quality of life. Enough education, because you can read, use the internet and follow your curiosity for various topics. Enough money, because you can pay for electricity, the internet, a computer, food and a shelter. And guess what…? You have enough stuff!

Yes, that’s right. If you are reading a blog about simple living and decluttering, it means you have enough stuff. It may even mean that you have too much. And you must fully understand and grasp this: I have enough, I have all that I need. This is the first step to lighter living.

I am currently staying in London, where there are material temptations everywhere. Every time I walk out of my house, I see pretty things to buy. A few years ago, I would have been walking into every shop that caught my eye and trying every dress that I pictured myself looking cute in. I would come up with excuses for why I absolutely had to buy yet another item of clothing. Now, whenever this desire arises, I simply say to myself ‘I have enough. I don’t need anything more’. And I walk by.

How liberating it is to realise that we have enough! That we have all that we need! That our lives are satisfying with all we have already! That we are blessed to have such abundant material safety and comfort!

If you struggle with overspending, tell yourself “I have enough”, and instead of buying, pray. Say thank you to the universe, God or life for giving you enough material support to live a life of safety and comfort. Amen!

abundance is not something we acquire it's something we tune into wayne dyer quote