Decluttering with Astrid (5)

This week Astrid, who is together with Irene the founder of Flow Magazine, shares the insights the book by Tammy Strobel gave her. Each Tuesday she is writing about decluttering.  

One of the most alluring things about having less stuff, I find, is that free feeling in your head. Having stuff costs time. You have to buy it (ergo choose and think), you have to store it, clean it, repair it if it’s broken, throw it away if it can’t be used anymore, pack it if you move house, dust it and move it around. Unfortunately, for me things are also something that, after a while, evoke a different emotion. As in: “What on earth was I thinking when I chose this sofa?” That is perhaps my greatest insight: things are often connected to trends, and these change. I’m not that talented when it comes to choosing stuff – I couldn’t make a living from it; I’m more prone to replicate what I see on the pages of a magazine. In her book, You Can Buy Happiness (And It’s Cheap), Tammy Strobel describes how she discovered that a large part of her life revolved around “stuff.” She had a job because she needed money to buy a house, and the house had to be furnished and decorated with nice things, which meant she had to work even more. The worst thing of all was that, even after all that, she wasn’t in the slightest bit happy. And because she was not happy, she bought even more stuff. She calls it “The paradox of stuff,” and writes that you should be careful not to allow your possessions to own you, as opposed to you owning them.

Now she has no home, almost no possessions, and tours around happily in a small wooden house. She takes long walks, drinks tea from the same mug morning, noon and night, and reads books on an e-reader. When all your belongings are scaled back to the bare essentials, it suddenly seems so much easier to get your life back to basics, too. Instead of busying herself with doing what is (or isn’t) in fashion, buying things or cleaning up, she writes books and a blog about the simpler life and decluttering. I’m not sure I, like many of the “tiny houses”-residents, could spend a long winter in the same woollen sweater, and whether my relationship could withstand a space of just 25 m2, but, fundamentally, I think her book is an eye-opener. Life is too short to be a slave to your stuff. Tammy is working fewer hours now because she simply needs less money. And with just one iPhone, notebook and teacup, you can also be very happy.

(Week 5: Tammy’s book)