The episode I just watched featured a woman who ended up needing to rent two storage units AND a 9000 square foot storefront so she could store all of her Stuff. Now, I understand that the emotional baggage that drives a hoarder to do what they do is different than the every day person who is consumed with Stuff. However, I think we all start from a similar place. This particular woman said something to the effect of "I grew up poor and never had much Stuff, so when I got older and began to acquire Stuff, I was so happy to finally have My Own Stuff that nobody was going to ever take that Stuff away from me." And she never again got rid of a single thing she acquired. Years later, with over 10,000 square feet of Stuff, a marriage in shambles because she'd been lying about her storage units to her husband, she had all of the Stuff she'd ever dreamed of, but she was nervous wreck trying to keep all of her lies straight and her marriage together.
When faced with the question of what we want most in life - most people answer that they want to be happy. Good answer. However, when you ask people what happiness looks like to them, so many can talk about the houses they will live in, the amount of money they will have, and the Stuff they will have. Is that really what happiness is?
So I'm asking myself right now - what does happiness look like to me? To me, happiness looks like... the feeling I get during the opening song at my favorite band's concert, that pure bliss when I lean back in a swing, going as high as I can go, the feeling I get when I'm dancing barefoot, careless and fancy-free. Those are my first thoughts of happiness. And Stuff? Sure, I love my IPhone, some of my books, and my bed... but I'd like to think that I could hand it over if my marriage or life depended on it.
I realize that I hold an alternative view on Stuff, and that I might be swinging the pendulum too far in the opposite direction of over-consumption, which will likely result in the pendulum swinging back into the middle at some point, but I'm okay with that. Balance is good.
What is your relationship with Stuff??? Have you ever thought about it? Maybe it is time to.
Author and Activist Annie Leonard has been dedicating her life these days to helping people to understand where their Stuff comes from and how they can be more responsible consumers. Here, she's done an animated short about the Story of Stuff - and it, along with the book, changed my life regarding Stuff. One of her major pieces of advice? Buy used stuff - It prevents the already produced Stuff from going into a landfill and gives Stuff a whole new chance at life (Buy Our Stuff!)
Much love - Amy