The Great Purge
Updated: Mar 2
Welcome to the great purge! And no, I'm not talking about the movie where people get to purge humans one day out of the year (that movie freaks me out, EW!). I'm talking about the actual annual purge we all love to do in the Spring to declutter our lives and make way for...more clutter.
I recently watched Minimalism on Netflix and it's surprisingly better than I thought it would be. Albeit, I'm late to the game since it was released in 2016, but I find it quite timely when a lot of folks are looking to improve the happiness in their lives during quarantine. I found this on Netflix without a doubt because I've pretty much watched everything else there is to watch on there (raise your hand if you can relate), but I found it really refreshing and relevant nonetheless. I appreciated that the focus was less about getting rid of stuff and more about declutter your life in general (emotionally, physically, etc.) in order to truly achieve joy.
At the beginning of the movie, we hear from Annie Leonard of Greenpeace USA: "The question is not if we are going to change as a society, but how are we going to change, because we are going to change by design or by disaster."
What I love about this quote is it sets the stage for understanding what STUFF can do to our lives.
Like many, I grew up seeing yard sales on the weekends from suburban homes trying to get rid of their stuff, my house included. As a kid, I remember seeing so much unnecessary junk people were trying to get rid of - stuff that solely existed because someone wanted to fill a fear or void. Think about it: why do we keep the stuff we do? We point fingers at hoarders shows we see on TV and the reality is much of the population is a hoarder in their own way.
We see stuff on sale that we don't need and buy it and wear it once because it's attainable for us at one moment in time.
We fear getting rid of things we never use because maybe... just maybe, one day we will need it.
We open credit cards and get bigger homes because we keep buying crap we don't need.
As the documentary talks about, we want stuff simply because we think it's a reflection of our happiness and success. But as Dave Ramsey says:
You gave up your independence you gave up your freedom in return for some stuff that's gonna be worth nothing in next year's garage sale."
You give up the space in your home, the space in your head, financial freedom and security... all to simply have STUFF.
I appreciate that Minimalism goes beyond just talking about getting rid of all your stuff and really dives deep into the emotional freedom and joy you feel when you truly learn to live simply and with purpose. "The reason the message of minimalism is so powerful is because we're bingeing on all the wrong things, and we're dying of hunger for the things that really matter." (Erwin McManus) We spend money on higher rent for more space because we buy more things, all instead of putting our money toward enriching experiences that grow us as humans. My entire life I've observed too many people maxing out retail credit cards and cramming their homes with stuff that doesn't matter, while simultaneously complaining about not having the money to travel to see the world and how unhappy they are. Yet... they often overlook the connection as to why.
This is something I learned quickly as an adult. I grew up in a home with a lot of stuff, but a lot of the times it was excess stuff and not needed. When I moved out of my childhood home and went to college, my lifestyle immediately changed. I unlearned the desire to keep things I didn't need and I've retained the habit of purging monthly. One of the more difficult things family and friends of mine find it difficult to understand is my lack of need to keep photos around the house. The documentary actually discusses this, too, and I feel validated in a lot of ways. Photos are really nice to have around the house for a lot of people, but for me it feels like clutter. The documentary talks about how keeping things simply because we attach a memory to them actually detracts from the memory itself. Memories are meant to live in our hearts and minds, not on our walls. When we keep the clutter on our walls, we don't make room for the new memories or growth in our life.
So... today, I encourage you to take some of the steps in this documentary. First, watch the documentary Minimalism and get on board. As you begin to internalize the ideas here, look around your room, identify a few things and ask yourself: does this item serve a purpose for my life? Next, check out these great reads below on minimalism. Be open and give it a try - you'll be surprised at the weight that gets lifted from your life.