Stories to Tell vs. Things to Show

Simplicity and minimalism are taking hold in many peoples’ consciousness now–so much so that it’s considered “a movement.”

One of the most appealing aspects of getting back to basics is getting out of the cycle of accumulation–it can feel like a trap, or a weight.

The tendency to accumulate things makes it necessary for us to have places to use, and house, what we have. That’s the cycle–we need more because we have more.

It’s all good: having things to share and enjoy is a worthy goal. But having stuff for memory’s sake or for maybe’s sake is a habit. We assign meaning to items, to tell our story.

Your Memories Are In You, Not In Your Things

Leo Babauta reminds us of that,here, in his decluttering guide from Zen Habits.

If you are attracted to having less stuff, and you want to make an effort to trim your possessions back, I can’t think of a more powerful concept than that.

Think of people who lose everything in a fire or flood. We don’t wish that on anyone. But when it happens, we see how their hearts and minds survive–even without their clothes and their books, let alone baby pictures or family heirlooms.

Ouch, how that must hurt. But it pales in comparison to the joy they have at realizing they are okay, they have each other.

That’s because not having baby pictures doesn’t erase the memory of having the baby. (It can’t… how did anyone ever experience joy thinking back to milestones before cameras were invented?)
No “thing” can compare to our experience of it.

Fill your life with stories to tell, not stuff to show.

Experiences trump things: with this minimalist mantra in mind, the sharing and enjoyment will likely take care of itself. Regardless of the material possessions or wealth you accumulate.

We don’t need to own a restaurant to enjoy serving people. (Said that random co-worker at the restaurant I worked in decades ago, when I was lamenting being a lowly server on a path to nowhere…I’ll always remember that advice!)

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