I have an arguably unhealthy obsession with organizing and cleaning and planning. However, I also have an unhealthy obsession with buying new things and wanting new things, as many of us do. It took me a long time, watching some "Tidying Up" on Netflix and forcing myself to regularly eliminate clutter to realize that the things in my life are giving me an incredible amount of anxiety. I'm very sentimental and struggle to get rid of things, which means I own a lot of objects that have meaning to me but aren't really useful in my everyday life.
To try to learn about what I could do to force myself to get rid of stuff and lessen my anxiety by lessening my belongings I started by watching the documentary "Minimalism". I started to see the appeal of living with as little as possible and eliminating excess thoughts and worries. Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus self-identify as "the minimalists" and are spreading a message of living more meaningful lives. The documentary follows multiple people who have given up "consumer culture" in a variety of ways. Some gave up excess clothing or objects, some gave up cars and moved into tiny houses, while one got rid of a home altogether and decided to travel the world.
Courtney Carver started Project333 as a way to declutter wardrobes, arguably the most common dumping ground for excess belongings. She decided that she would try to dress with only 33 items for three months. Those 33 items included clothes, shoes, jewelry, and accessories. After the short three month experiment, Carver realized that she only needed that small wardrobe to dress. Project 333 has become a phenomenon with women all over the country attempting to dress with only 33 items. The idea is that you only keep your favorite wardrobe items, so you lessen dissatisfaction with your clothes and lessen decision making every time you have to get dressed.
Carver's project is just one example of decluttering one area of your life, but it's an interesting process to think about. We don't need all of the things we own, we just think we do. Carver's process points out that once you get rid of those things, you actually don't miss them. With everyone trying to become as happy as possible and as successful as possible, it's easy to lose sight of what it actually means to be happy and successful. Perhaps success lies in being the most satisfied with our own lives rather than matching everyone else's view of success. The stories presented by the minimalist movement prove that living with fewer things can mean living with more meaning.
Beyond the personal benefits of consuming less, it is well-known that lowering consumption positively impacts our environment. Consumer culture has created many of the massively daunting environmental problems we see today. With practices like fast fashion, cheap labor and cheap production of goods, it is easy to see how our process of creating and using materials does nothing but hurt ourselves and the world around us.