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Gretchen Rubin

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Balanced Life -- Use Up What You Have

Posted: 03/04/10 05:05 PM ET

Burningwood

I'm working on my Happiness Project, and you could have one, too! Everyone's project will look different, but it's the rare person who can't benefit. Join in -- no need to catch up, just jump in right now. Each Friday's post will help you think about your own happiness project.

I've found an easy way to expand my wardrobe, find more books to own and read, discover movies to watch, and unearth lovely objects to use - all without leaving my apartment or spending a penny.

How? I've resolved to use up what I have. Why is this so hard to do? It's so satisfying, when I do manage to make myself do it.

The most enigmatic of my Twelve Personal Commandments is to spend out. I have a miserly, ungenerous nature; by spending out, I mean to stop hoarding, to trust in abundance, to put things in circulation - and to use what I already have.

This resolution comes up in several situations.

Sometimes, I don't use up what I have because I love to acquire. In most cases, I hate to shop, but I buy books, more and more books, even though I have a huge stack of unread books waiting for me. Before I was married, I was very disciplined about never having more than three unread books at a time. My husband didn't observe this rule at all, and before long, I became a drive-by book-buyer, just like him. If I just read the books I already have, I would be set for months without a single purchase. I'm trying to do that.

Sometimes, I don't make the effort to use up what I have. Instead of taking a minute to think creatively about how to wear all my clothes, I wear the same tired outfits over and over. I can expand my wardrobe just by wearing all my clothes.

Sometimes I find myself saving things instead of using them, even when that makes no sense. I buy new white t-shirts, then "save" them. I don't use the lovely stationery my sister gave me for Christmas, I'm "saving" it. However, in not using things I'm often wasting them. I want to put things to work and use them up.

Using up what I have is a way to clear clutter, too. If I've read a book, I can consider giving it away (usually I keep my books, but not always). If I've really tried to wear a particular item of clothing, and just can't do it, I can give it away instead of telling myself, "I should wear that!" and keeping it in my closet. If I've decided it's time to buy a new toothbrush, I should throw away the old toothbrush instead of trying to "save" the new one.

The opposite of a great truth is also true, and it's true that there can be great satisfaction in pleasing stores - the cozy feeling created by shelves stocked with all the things you need.

In some circumstances, I like having lots of supplies, but in general, I'm trying to use up what I have.

How about you? Does this ring true for you?

* I love New York City, so I loved this video capturing a day in the life of the city. Plus, my husband's former office building makes a cameo appearance, which is fun.

* The book The Happiness Project has been bouncing around at the top of the New York Times bestseller list for nine weeks now! - including hitting #1! You can...

Order your copy!

Read sample chapters!

Watch the one-minute book trailer!

Join the discussion on the Facebook Page!

If you're inspired to start your own happiness project, join the 2010 Happiness Challenge, to make 2010 a happier year.


 
 
 

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