The Zen of Giving Away Your Stuff

>Here’s something marketers don’t want you to know: Stuff cannot and will not ever make you happy. In fact, stuff can make your life more complicated and miserable than you can possibly imagine.

I learned this lesson a really hard way. I nearly lost everything in Hurricane Katrina.

I say nearly because we didn’t know what happened to our house and everything in it until more than one month after the storm hit and broke the levees in New Orleans. We didn’t know if we’d lost everything in a flood or if our house was even standing.

To our surprise, my husband and I mourned very few of our possessions during that time. The flat-screen TV? Nope, not a thought about


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13 Responses to The Zen of Giving Away Your Stuff

  1. Roger says:

    Great article. You are so right with this, I think we all need a hurricane in our lives (figuratively not literally :)) to sort out what is really important to us.

  2. Susan says:

    This is a wonderful post. Getting rid of stuff definitely frees you in so many ways. You have more room to think, create, spend time with loved ones and overall enjoy your life much more. It definitely confirms the axiom that “the best things in life are free.” Thank you.

  3. Sashka says:

    Very insightful. I had a similar experience when I had to leave my home in a hurry – I knew I wouldnt be able to retrieve anything left behind, and whatever I took had to fit in the trunk of my friends car. And I only had 10 minutes to decide. What did I take? My dog, my photo boxes and my grandmothers jewelry.
    As a reformed pack rat I cant begin to tell you the huge sense of freedom.
    In the 2 years since then I have carefully thought out each acquisition. The one time I started to feel bogged down again I realized I had too much ‘stuff’.
    I will never carry around that much baggage again.

  4. Alex says:

    I can only Amen your wonderful article–especially the first paragraph. I’ve learned the hard way, and I’m still trying to get rid of all the stuff I foolishly bought (yes, most of it on credit cards0 that was supposed to make me happy and has had the opposite effect. Thank you, Denise, for your insight, wisdom, and priceless
    P.S. I’m so glad Squeaky made it through Katrina.

  5. Carol says:

    I am so glad that Squeeky made it!
    I totally agree with all that you wrote about. I am a clutter-phobic. My bf teases me about ‘de-clutterizing’ all of the time. I dont like to have ‘stuff’ and I think we are all better off without it. The less that I buy they less that is made and I know that is not good for the economy but it is better for the earth to not have the chemicals and air pollution coming from the factories making the junk and the landfills that fill up when people decide to throw their junk in them. I am a huge participant in my local ‘freecycle’ organization. It is online shopping for free. We all need to recycle, reuse and stop buying ‘stuff’!

  6. Linda says:

    I agree with you wholeheartedly. When I downsized to a smaller place, I let go of many things. I still have lots of photos to probably let go of, however. Whenever I bring home a new or gently used item, I try to replace it with something else, and take that like-item to a second hand store, or Freecycle it. It’s such a great feeling to share things with the universe!

  7. Sharon says:

    I loved this post. Very thought provoking. Thanks very much.

  8. Daphne says:

    Great post. Glad you made it though the hurricane just fine. Yes it’s amazing how something like that makes you realise what’s really important.

    I do spring cleaning once a year, and it’s so therapeutic giving away what I don’t need. You just reminded me that perhaps it’s time to do it again!

  9. I couldn’t agree more. I’m also glad to hear that Squeaky had a change of heart!


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  13. Michelle says:

    Great article! I have felt the same way for the past three years, actually since we sold our comfortable smaller house and bought a bigger brand new house. What a wake up call! I didn’t need a natural disaster to discover I don’t need this big house and all the crap that filled it. You are right, more to clean. Takes more of my time that I would wrather spend with my husband and my son. I’ve always said, things don’t matter, I can’t take it with me when I die. Relationships are more important to me. The older I get the more people I know have passed on. Life is just too short to stress out about all of this crap. I just wish it didn’t cost us 150,000 to discover I don’t need it or want it and it doesn’t make me happy. All of that money and we didn’t even make a dent we might as well be renting. I’m sorry if I’m rambling, it’s 2am and lately this is all I can think about. I want out of this money pit. I want a simple life. I want to enjoy every minute of every day that I have with my family.

    Thank you for your article. I feel validated! Take care.

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