Having Less Stuff


The PSYCHE magazine article by Melissa Norberg (deputy director for the Centre for Emotional Health and associate professor at Macquarie University, and the national president for the Australian Association for Cognitive and Behaviour Therapy) deep dives into the benefits of having less stuffs to our own wellbeing and the planet.

Key points from the article in her own words:

Key points – How to have less stuff

  • Our relationship to our things has deep psychological roots. From coping with separation to dealing with rejection, we learn to find comfort in our possessions throughout life.
  • There are many benefits to regaining control of your possessions. You will save money, have less clutter, protect the environment and enjoy the pleasures of regifting.
  • Identify what triggers and reinforces your buying and storing behaviour. By understanding the environmental and emotional causes and consequences of your behaviour, you will be better placed to find ways to change.
  • Develop a plan to resist buying items you don’t need. Find replacement behaviours that serve the same psychological needs as purchasing, and set yourself shopping rules to help delay gratification.
  • Develop a plan to resist keeping possessions you do not use. Practise experiencing and accepting the difficult emotions triggered by discarding things and set rules for when and why to dispose of or regift your stuff.
  • Use a one-minute rule when making purchasing or discarding decisions. If you take longer than a minute, you’re probably looking for justifications to buy or keep more stuff, thus thwarting your own goals. If you need help deciding, just look at your contract – it contains the answer!
  • Track what you buy, store and discard. You’ll notice patterns which will help you avoid making the same purchasing and saving mistakes; and if you’re not meeting your goals, you can make adjustments.
  • Reward yourself for meeting your goals. Reflect on the money you’ve saved and the people you’ve helped through donating and regifting. When you meet your goals, ask supportive friends and family for praise!

Source: How to have less stuff | PSYCHE

Dr Norberg writes “material possessions can be powerfully alluring – whether it’s buying new stuff we don’t need or can’t afford, or holding on to things for way too long”.

Hording unwanted stuff is truly a problem for many us!