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Possession Obsession: How Many Material Things Do You Really Need?

Written by Seana Turner, PO.

Have you ever wondered how much “stuff” is the right amount? It isn’t an easy question to answer. After all, in some parts of the world individuals own hardly anything, while in others people live in opulent homes with rooms overflowing with possessions. How can we figure out what is right for us?

The answer lies in taking an honest look at three key questions.

What kind of “stuff” do I really want?

This question will differ greatly from one individual to another because of our diverse interests and occupations. One person may need very few kitchen items because he hates cooking, but has a lot of tools because he enjoys working on cars.

Another may prefer to fill her space with crafting supplies. Young parents may find it convenient to have a living room full of plastic play equipment. Another aspect of this question relates to the items which we intentionally acquire, but feel guilty getting rid of. Perhaps a beautiful antique lamp from a family member, or a pile of photos of ancestors we can’t even identify. Knowing ourselves, and what makes us happy, enables us to focus on acquiring (and holding onto) only the possessions that bring joy and value to our lives.

How can I best take advantage of the space I have?

While some people may have closets large enough to accommodate a seating area, many of us don’t. Focusing on the space we want to have - or think we deserve - is counterproductive. Instead, we need to maximize the functionality of the space we do have. The reality is, the less space we have, the more important it is to take advantage of every inch. By organizing our homes and offices with such tools as closet systems, shelf/drawer enhancements, hooks, cubbies, and drawer dividers, just to name a few, we both optimize our space and provide order all at the same time.

How much “stuff” do I have room for?

This question can be the toughest. In today’s society, we often get caught up in amassing the items we see in the world around us. For example, one year it seems that everyone is getting an outdoor fire pit, so we go out and get one, even if we have no place to store it in the winter and didn’t really want one in the first place. Or we feel pressure to buy the latest fashion, even if it is trendy and doesn’t flatter us. If we have unlimited space for these types of items (and assuming we have the money to buy them), then pursuing these lifestyle paths may not be a problem. Unfortunately, since most of us don’t have unlimited space, we end up paying a price for bringing more into our space than we actually have room for. What price? The price of storing, moving, cleaning, repairing, insuring, shoving, hiding and struggling with too much stuff. The wise thing is to diligently restrain ourselves from bringing anything into our lives which we can’t easily find a “home” for.

At the end of the day, the “right” amount of belongings can be defined as those which fit comfortably in our space and bring us great joy. If we evaluate all potential acquisitions against these benchmarks, we are likely to end up with exactly what we need.

Seana Turner, PO
Seana Turner, PO

Seana Turner is the founder & President of The Seana Method in Darien, CT. The Seana Method is a structured approach to organizing the three aspects of daily life: space, time, and responsibilities. Developed to erase the slate of self recrimination, The Seana Method designs life strategies that result in predictability, flexibility and joy. Vi.. Read more

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