Just Too Much Stuff

Judging from the huge choice of self-help books, it appears that a lot of people want to learn about how they can improve their lives. When you take a closer look at what it says on the backs of most of these books, the key promise usually is that these books will help you simplify your life. Whether you’ll learn how to Cope With Difficult People, Get Things Done, Be Decisive, etc., — what it comes down to is that you’ll (hopefully…) learn new skills making certain situations easier to deal with.

Unfortunately, what the majority of these books won’t tell you is that one of the foremost causes of un-ease, or even fear, is having too much stuff to worry about. While “too much stuff” usually translates to “too many material things,” it can sometimes cover immaterial things too. In other words, the more you have, the more you have to worry about. Consequently, the most promising approach to make your life just that little easier is not reading ever more self-help books, but simply getting rid of things you no longer need or want. It really is that simple.

Please welcome… Discardia!

About three years ago, Dinah Sanders has come up with a fabulous way to turn getting rid of things into a ritual, and a pleasant one at that, mind you. What’d she do? She invented a new holiday: Discardia! As Dinah writes on her website, Discardia is

about letting go, abdicating from obligation and guilt, being true to the self you are now. Discardia is the time to get rid of things that no longer add value to your life, shed bad habits, let go of emotional baggage and generally lighten your load.

She emphesizes that there is no obligation to do anything specific during Discardia, but just the thought of throwing out some things — both material and immaterial — that I’ve kept for so long just because “some day I might need them again,” is soothing enough to actually make me want to act out the Discardian idea by going through my own closets and basement storage right now.

Just like any other holiday, Discardia has its own festive season, but in true geek spirit, Dinah has come up with an amusingly intricate way to define just when it’s time to get into the Discardia spirit:

It takes place in the time between the Solstices & Equinoxes and their following new moons. Sometimes it’s short and sometimes it’s long.

Fear not: a kind soul has put up a webpage with the dates of the upcoming Discardia seasons, so you can safely skip the maths behind determining these dates yourself. Note that I’m posting this article right in the middle of a Discardia holiday season. I’m not sure, yet, what to get rid of this time, but I’m sure that I’ll find _some_thing.

If you have any specific ideas how you will celebrate Discardia, please share them via a comment below.

Discardia++

Taken by itself, Discardia already is a great way to throw out some of your troubles by throwing out some things. But there’s a way to make Discardia even more valuable.

Andy Ihnatko has recently written an article about his personal way of raising money for his favorite charity. He’s auctioning off some of the — mostly geeky — stuff that he no longer needs, and he does it in typical Ihnatko style: people do not bid on specific items, but for the right to take the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc. pick from the basket with the things he’s brought to the auction. Do read his article on TidBITS for the (highly entertaining) details.

Combining Dinah’s and Andy’s ideas, you’ll get something that I’d call Discardia++. Think about it: you get rid of stuff, which takes some of the worries away from you; you make other folks happy with these things, because they still appreciate them; and you raise money for people in need. A pragmatic karma hattrick if there ever was one.

If you think you’re drowning in stuff you no longer need, start celebrating Discardia right now. And if you have a chance to auction off this stuff at whatever social group gathering you’re involved with, go right ahead. It’ll help simplify and enrich your life in ways you could not read about in any of those self-help books…

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