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Is 8 Really Enough?

October 26, 2011

Imagine only owning 8 things. I just counted and including earrings and socks, I’m wearing 20 things as I type! Last weekend I saw the off-off Broadway play “Swimming in the Shallows.” In it, one of the actors talks about monks who only own 8 things. After realizing she has 49 pieces of Tupperware, she becomes obsessed with purging everything she owns in the hopes of getting down to 8. By the end of the play she reached 147.

A few months ago I was contacted by HGTV asking me to inventory my stuff. They were considering doing a segment on my tiny space and how much I could fit. So I counted. Jeans, boots, sneakers, loafers, button down shirts, sweaters, T-shirts, shorts, pants, yoga tights, books, glass jars, toiletries, towels, rolls of toilet paper and more. Much more. Have you ever done a personal inventory? Most people don’t realize how much they have until they move. And even though I got rid of a lot before moving into my 90 square foot studio – where everything has a place and isn’t cramped – I was amazed how much I still had.

My friend Yuju is being transferred to Korea for six months for work. In preparation she began downsizing her spacious one bedroom. While already a minimalist, she went on a strict purge. She gave away clothes that no longer fit, shredded cases of papers (including paystubs from her entire career spanning 20 years), and tossed the few kitchen items she owned (she eats out at every meal). Taking only 3 suitcases of winter clothes, “Which are bulky,” she wanted noted, she put the rest in storage.

“Can’t believe my life fits into 6 boxes!’ she texted. Does she feel freer? “Big time.”

I received an email this week from a man in New Jersey forced to move into a studio because of finances. “For the past year I’ve been feeling down about the whole downsizing thing. However, after watching your video, I’ve been inspired and I am learning to appreciate my simple living.”

The Apartment Therapy blog has an article this week titled “How to Declutter Your Home.” And while, like every organizer, they offer simple, yet strict steps on getting rid of stuff, with my own clients I take another approach. I try to encourage them to remember that it’s not about what you don’t have, but what you do. And in this case, I’m not talking about stuff.

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2 Comments
  1. Everyone’s level of comfort is different. Rather than a couch or chair, I prefer a floor cushion. Rather than a desk, I use a clip board. Rather than accessories, I go without. I spur my creativity with alternatives. I never feel deprived.

  2. Choosing a number for anything is a good guiding principle.

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