April 4, 2017

Downsizing: What Do You Keep?

I love to cook, so decided to keep core kitchen items like large bowls and cast iron frying pans.

Downsizing? Just as difficult as it is to decide what to get rid of, are the decisions of what to keep.

It seems that about 98% of the things we buy and hold on to in consumer societies are unnecessary, weigh us down, and destroys the planet at the same time. Knowing that, it may still be hard to let go of familiar things.

But it is worth it. Simplifying and having less leaves more room for what is truly important, so all the difficult decisions are worth making.

The more you own, the more you spend to purchase, maintain, and store things. Stuff needs to be cleaned, sharpened, lubricated, dusted, and kept free of rust and decay as it all succumbs to the laws of entropy. Plus you have to look at everything all the time. Even worse, you  have to wonder why you bought any of it in the first place.

When you have less you have more money, more space, and more time to create the life that you passionately want.

Things We Decided To Keep (for now)

- cast iron frying pan
- universal pot lid
- stainless steel bowls
- blankets, pillows
- outdoor clothing/gear
- art supplies
- basic clothing and fabric
- tools
- small sewing kit
- seeds
- computer
- yoga mats
- rugs/carpets
- guitars and sheet music
- books/journals

But what about things like photographs and love letters? Nope, we let them go, and freed ourselves in the process.

I don't want things, I want happiness and contentment, and over the years I have found that those increase as the anchor of physical possessions becomes less of a drag on my life.

My ultimate goal is to have all my possessions down to what will fit in a small backpack, or shoebox by the time I die. 99% of what we buy and own in consumer societies consists of distractions that keep us from the truly important.

What is kept while downsizing will differ from person to person, reflecting what is most important to each of us. No expert, no book, no method can tell you what to keep. That hard work is up to each of us, and us alone.

It wasn't important to keep photographs... for me. It might be for you, though. Only you can decide.

But the goal should always be to keep as little as possible. The way to do it is: be honest with yourself, be fearless, then let go. Enjoy what you keep, including the memories.


  1. We've been married for 37 years and have tons of photos and negatives. I think I will go through them this summer and toss at least half of them. It's a start. Each time I do a purge, it forces me to re-evaluate what's left. Then another purge will come. I may not get my/our possessions down to a backpack or a shoebox, but I definitely want to get down to at least a small apartment.

  2. Anonymous4/06/2017

    Everyone has a different set of requirements, but the general idea is to keep what is useful. I like that photo of Steve Jobs sitting in his minimalist living room, although I'm not a fan of what he created.
    I try to avoid furniture and eventually me and my wife are moving to a new room so we get camping mats rather than buying a bed and a mattress.

  3. Anonymous4/06/2017

    I plan on photographing my sentimental letters to store in the cloud/on a memory stick. For me owning little is very important, less to worry about losing/damaging/maintaining/moving.

  4. This makes me think of the old Quaker idea of unencumbering. My life now requires me to own more things than I did previously, but they can all be donated to others who need them when the time comes. As for personal, sentimental things, those are all gone. No books, journals, pictures or keepsakes now. Just what I need to get by.

  5. No matter how much we are attached and loving some of our stuff, there comes a time in which we have to get rid of them. The more we overwhelm ourselves with useless things the most we harm ourselves and the environment.


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