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Credit cards Français : Cartes de crédit Italiano: Carte di credito ???????: ?????????? ????? Ti?ng Vi?t: Th? tín d?ng ??: ??? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Most of us are surrounded by a ton of stuff. The problem is so rampant that there are numerous self-help books and even TV shows to show us how to organize all of it. But it is possible, even fulfilling, to let go of the mass-consumption mentality and make the change to a simpler and happier lifestyle. Here are some steps you can take toward a life with less stuff.

1. Need vs. want
Before you make a purchase, ask yourself if you really need that item, or if you just want it. How would your life be better long-term if you bought that item? Would it benefit anyone else, or just you? Can you afford it, or will you have to pay it off gradually? And even think – where am I going to put it!

2. Pay cash for everything
One way to curtail excessive spending is to commit to paying for everything up front – no loans, no credit cards, no “making payments” unless it’s an unavoidable emergency.  This is very hard for some people.  The best way to stop using the credit cards is to cut them up or, at least, leave them at home when you go out to shop.  Planning ahead is key.

3. Donate
There are many people who would love some of the items you have stored away. Ask your local charities or churches if there are any families in need, or donate to your local GoodWill, Salvation Army, etc.  Many organizations will even pick up your discards making it easy for you to give.

4. Keep things in perspective
It’s easy to get clingy with our things, but keeping our priorities straight and looking at the big picture can go a long way in helping you make the change. (Will it matter in 100 years if you have that DVD right now? Will it make you a better person to have that outfit or gadget?) Remember how pointless it is to keep an item from someone who really needs it when you hardly ever use it. Think about how happy that item will make someone else.

5. Find what makes you truly happy
Accumulating more stuff will not, ultimately, make you happier. It will make your life more complicated. Happiness needs to come from within, and if you can find out what makes your spirit content and peaceful, you will feel less of an inner void and won’t be tempted to fill that void with material things.

6. Entertain yourself
You don’t need to look to media, games, etc. to be entertained. Find out how to pass your “down time” creatively, and exercise your mind’s “muscle.” When you step away from mass media, you will find previously unknown resources within yourself.  Read a library book.  Take a nature walk.  Play games with your family.

7. Focus on others
Fulfillment can be found in interpersonal relationships, which have no price tag attached. Objects can not satisfy that need for interaction and intimacy. When we focus on other people, it’s a step toward breaking out of the “it’s all about me and what I want” mentality that gives rise to mass consumption.

7. Enjoy the added space
Relax and enjoy the simplicity of life with less stuff. You will probably find that you think more clearly and are less tense without all that stuff demanding your attention. Plus you’ll find that it’s a whole lot easier to dust!

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