Abundance. Variety. Choice. These sound like great things, right? And scarcity, uniformity and limitation sound really bad. But what makes you happier? Hmmmm….
As I was reading Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project, I came across an interesting description of a study where participants were given a large menu of food items and told to order snacks for several weeks. Of course most people chose an interesting variety of items. However, when they repeated the study, but had people choose snacks one week at a time, the participants usually just opted for their favorite thing over and over.
An article in the London-based newspaper The Daily Telegraph claims that, while the average ten-year-old child owns more than 230 toys, he actually plays with only about 12 of them. (And those are British kids. One look at the playroom in my house tells me that American kids own about 4,827 toys.)
On the Becoming Minimalist blog, Joshua Becker notes that the average American woman today owns 30 outfits (…and yet can never find anything to wear. Am I right, ladies?)
By contrast, in an article in Harper's Bazaar, art director Matilda Kahl tells the story of the last time she arrived to work late, unprepared, and wearing an ill-chosen outfit (which, it turned out, she also had on inside-out!) because of the excessive time she spent fretting over various ensembles before choosing the one that she regretted anyway. What made it truly the last time was her immediate decision to go out and buy 15 white silk shirts, a few pairs of black trousers and a black blazer, and to wear the same thing to work every day thereafter.
About the time I came across all these interesting facts and stories, I was involved in my seasonal ritual of dragging warm weather clothing out of storage and packing away cold weather sweaters and coats. And thusly...
I realized that I own
a shocking amount of clothing.
Even worse, a good number of the sweaters I took out of my closet and packed away had never even been worn throughout the winter!
This. Is. Nuts.
So I embarked on my own little experiment: rather than sorting and carrying and folding and hanging all my summer garments, I sifted through them and chose about a dozen shirts, about half a dozen pairs of shorts or capri's, one nice pair of jeans, and three dressy outfits, all of which I actually like to wear. I left everything else in the storage closet. For now.
Well, not everything. While I was deciding which items made the cut, I harvested a few bags of serviceable clothing to donate, all of which I actually hated to wear. It felt good to give those things away. And it felt really good to finally be honest with myself.
So can such a small change really make a lasting difference in the level of satisfaction I have with my life? Holy smokes, you bet! Every morning I pull my “uniform” for the day from one of two drawers. I no longer spend half the morning searching through every drawer and all over my closet for something to wear, nor refolding massive piles of rejects. And since I am not constantly faced with wardrobe dissatisfaction, I am not tempted to waste time and money buying new things I think I'm going to like better. Likely that's how I got into this mess to begin with.
Having fewer clothing choices actually feels like I have more to wear. And that makes me...