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I Don’t Need Things…

As I write we have been on the road 19 days.  Me, my husband, my two kids, and our camping gear in our Prius.   If ever we were to live as a minimalist it is during this time.  We will be on the road about 6-7 weeks when we get done and after we pack sleeping bags and blankets to keep warm we sure don’t have much room for many more things.

It got me thinking…

I Don’t Need Things…

…to make me feel important

I don’t need the biggest, the shiny-est, the newest, the most.  I don’t need things to prove either my bank account balance, my education, or my achievements.

It has taken some years, and probably maturity to learn, but things do a really poor job of this.  I heard a great quote by a guy a few weeks ago at a museum.  He said “I always assume people are smarter than me unless the prove otherwise’.  It is too true.  It doesn’t matter how fancy the dress, how expensive the car, or any other thing.  If a person opens their mouth the true intelligence of the person is quickly revealed.  I don’t know that I sound smart or successful, but dressing or owning the part wouldn’t do much for me.

…to remember things

I don’t need the magnet, the matching towel set, the shot glass or the tacky trinket, to remember my vacations.  Just because I go somewhere new doesn’t mean I need to bring something back.  It might have been the case for the early explorers…. but, not trying to be rude, it is now similar to ‘marking your territory’, just a habit every time we see something new.    Like somehow a little spoon will prove to everyone back home that I did actually take the vacation I said I did.

Don’t get me wrong.  I am not against all memory item. I am against the habitual collection of it.  My best memories don’t have anything to do with things so why would I need a thing to help me remember it?

…to hold relationships

Just because someone gave me something doesn’t mean our relationship is now bound up in that item.  …like somehow, if I get rid of it I may as well be getting rid of the person.  I will admit that gifts are tricky, but holding a house full of old gifts doesn’t make a person any more social or have any better relationships than someone else.

…to hide behind

It is hard, but I really do what to know who I am.  I want others to know who I am… the good, the bad, and the ugly.  People can condemn others for running from their problems in the bottle but just as many or more run to things to hid from themselves or others.  We have one life to live, to grow, to examine ourselves, to learn.  What good does it do to pretend (to ourselves or others) that we are perfect .

…to make me happy

Money can buy happiness (cool TED talk) but stashing for myself has never produced more than slight momentary excitement… if that.  It is interesting that getting new things really doesn’t provide happiness, but debt or breaking things often makes us very stressed or upset.

I need a ‘thing’ above my head, some ‘things’ to cover my body, some ‘things’ to eat, but beyond these and a few others I don’t need things.  I need family, friends, God, time, knowledge, growth.  These are things I need, and they aren’t ‘things’ at all.

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22 Comments

  1. Stephen Stephen

    Great post 🙂 Happy Halloween,my friends,be safe on your travels 🙂

    • Thanks! Happy Halloween back at you 🙂

  2. Jennifer G Jennifer G

    Fantastic post, Lorilee!!

    • thanks!

  3. Love your blog. How exciting to be traveling for so long. I hope you have a safe, adventurous
    trip and a happy Halloween!

    • thanks so much!

  4. Latrisha Latrisha

    Thanks for this post! I especially liked the parts that discuss not needing things to remember experiences or to hold relationships. I have soooo many greeting cards that I’ve received from people over holidays, birthdays, etc. and even more souvenirs people have brought me. Of course I appreciate the thoughtfulness but what if I never use or wear the things that they give me? I’ve always felt bad for throwing out those types of things for the very reason you listed above–as if throwing them away means I’m throwing away that person.

    So this weekend I’m going to go through my “stash” and get rid of the Disney t-shirts, shot glasses and cards that are collecting dust and taking up space. Thanks again!

    Also, side note…my mom keeps all of the Christmas cards she’s ever received and uses them as decorations during the holidays. She hangs them on a string and instead of garland, she decorates the house with Christmas cards! 🙂 I always thought it was unique but I can’t say I’ll follow in her footsteps! I’m tossing mine! (or maybe I’ll give them to her to add to her decorations)LOL

    • That is a cool way to decorate. It is tough, and I sure don’t have it figured out. It is a very nice gesture for people to give gifts and bring things back for others when they go on vacation… but after the ‘thought’ it is just a stash of clutter. Thanks for your comment!

  5. Pam Pam

    Thanks for your blog today. We recently downsized to a small condo and we were determined to get rid of a lot of things which filled up 3 storage garages – but now we are down to 1 🙂 I finally did get rid of all the greeting cards, but I still have all the shot glasses. I think I became a “stasher” (it sounds nicer than “hoarded”, doesn’t it? (not really) – b/c my mother never kept anything. I would work hard on an artwork or a paper at school, and I would be so proud of it, and she would throw it in the trash (she might wait a few days, but it always ended up in the same place). Therefore, my self-worth and confidence was “shot to hell”, and I swore I would NEVER do that to my own kids. Now all our kids are grown and raised, and we paid the price (lots of work) to save all those memories. Our kids thought it was “cool” to look at now that they were grown, but they didn’t want to KEEP them. Anyway, one storage garage to go (I vow we will get that cleared out before the end of the year). Your blog is quite an inspiration. Thank You.

    • Pam, thanks so much for your comment! Good to meet you. Kids memories are tough and I am still working on figuring out which assignments are fun to do and which the kids really want to keep. It is fun to keep some and impossible to keep all… We keep a box and let the kids pick what they want to keep right now, but I hope we are keeping what will matter to them while still helping them learn simple living 🙂

      • danni danni

        I was having a hard time getting rid of all the things the kids made me too. Finally I figured it out for us. My mom gave me a digital picture frame so I decided to just take pictures of each thing they made and put all the pictures into the frame. It was so freeing that I ended up scanning all our pictures from the photo albums and doing the same with them. I can see the pictures whenever I want in 1 frame instead of the piles of photo albums and scrapbooks that were stashed in boxes because we couldn’t a place for them. Make sure if you do it to back them up though. We have all the pictures on 2 different jet sticks and our hard drive. One jet stick stays in the picture frame and the other is in a fireproof safe.

        • brilliant! I might have to share this in a future post 🙂

        • Kathy Kathy

          Did you throw away the actual print photos after that? I have a digital photo frame on my kitchen counter and the whole family loves looking at the memories. But I have about 25 large heavy scrapbooks that I hate dealing with. They are a chore to move, to find a place to put in the house, and they don’t get enjoyed nearly as much as our digital photos in that frame. I want to convert them all to digital but I think I will still feel weird throwing away the books, but it would be a huge weight lifted off of me. I’m still conflicted as you can tell….

  6. Elizabeth Kane Elizabeth Kane

    I love this. The more I travel, the more I realize this too. There’s something about the process that makes you think about your life on a larger scheme, and puts what’s important in perspective. Things are our instruments for a great life – that’s all they really can be.

    Moments can’t be collected in a box and that’s what makes them so priceless. I’m glad you’re having fun with your family!

    • oh, I like ‘Things are our instruments for a great life’.

  7. I loved this post, Lorilee! Lately I feel like all I need is a computer monitor to slideshow pictures of my loved ones and fun activities that we’ve done– there’s no clutter there. 🙂

    • Yes! So often the computer is left on all day and there could be a screensaver slide show of them 🙂 Great idea!

  8. Gary M Gary M

    That was a very nice post. I especially liked the part about not needing souvenirs. When I was a kid, we visited a historic site which had the following sign at its entrance: “Leave nothing but footprints. Take nothing but photographs.” I wish I had followed that advice over the many ensuing years. It would have saved me a lot of money and aggravation.

    • yes, love that quote 🙂

  9. Kathy Kathy

    Do you take a computer with you on these long trips? And does your hubby take his camera gear? Sometimes I love having my big cameras with me but other times all I want to deal with is a point & shoot or iPhone camera. My personal stuff is very limited and simple if it weren’t for all my camera & computer gear (it is my business also so it gets excused).

    • Kathy… our life is simple except for our camera and computer gear too 🙂 We bring it on trips. I spend lots of time in the car typing and we end up pulled off at lots of look-outs at sunrise and sunset (sometimes in freezing weather) while Bryon sets up his tripod and waits for the shot he wants.

      I think there is still ways to simplify work (and hobby) things. I spent lots of time on the trip cleaning out the computers from junk files and programs and organizing my writing plan for the next few months. I think both computers and cameras are areas where a few quality pieces are much more valuable than lots of stuff. Thanks for your comment!

      • Kathy Kathy

        I figured you must surely bring it, especially with all the neat places you travel. I have 2 camera bodies & 3 lenses, all quality & they each fill a specific need in my business. I also have a lot of lighting gear but it stays in the horse trailer since I only use it when I shoot horse shows. I do want to get rid of my desktop computer in favor of another laptop (I have 4 that I use as photo viewing stations at shows but I wouldn’t want personal stuff on them since too many people could access it). Since finding your blog & getting to see your real life home examples I’ve been inspired and really getting rid of clutter. Thank you so much!!

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