How to Conquer Your Fear and Discover the Joy of Less

We've all found ourselves packing for a trip, worrying we'll need something, cramming it in.  

Then we get back home and realize we used about half of what we packed, but had to carry and keep track of all the rest.  If only we could have lightened the load right from the beginning!

ready for travel

That crowded suitcase is a symptom of fear.    

Do you know what fear does?

  • It makes us nervous about not having enough for our needs.  
  • It makes us rely on our stuff for security.  
  • It prevents us from being adaptable and creative.  
  • It makes us anxious about losing memories of our loved ones or our past. 
  • It keeps us from reaching out to others, whether to ask for help or to offer it.  

Our fears rarely materialize, but we still let them control us.   Fear – not minimalism – narrows our world and makes our life experience poorer.

Related article:  The Truth About Clutter

What is enough?

Minimalism helps us realize how little we actually need.  It helps us identify the just right Goldilocks balance of enough and no more.

Many of us are blessed with no experience of deprivation, so we don't know where "enough" begins.  Our culture pushes us to keep increasing and upgrading what we have, no questions asked.  Yet when we muster enough courage to let go, we feel free.  And if a need does arise, we find that we can improvise, borrow from a friend, or manage to do without.

Author Patrick Rhone describes it this way:

Enough comes from trying things out.  
It comes from challenging your preconceptions.  
It comes from letting go of your fear of less.  
It comes from letting go of the false security of more.

Why not experiment with minimalism?  See what it's like to live with less, and conquer your fear by doing things differently for a limited time.  

Don't think of it as deprivation – call it research.  The fact that you've defined a trial period soothes your anxieties, because you know you can always go back to the way things were.  But if you keep an open mind, you might discover that you don't need all the extras and back-ups after all.

6 experiments in living with enough

1.  Box up half of your dishes, pots and pans, and cooking utensils for a month or more.

  • Are your cupboards lighter and cleaner as a result?  
  • Do you have more space on your worktops for kitchen tasks?  
  • Are you still able to cook and serve your go-to recipes?  
  • Is there something you miss having, either for convenience or for a favorite once-in-a-while cooking experience – or are you happier with less?

2.  Box up half of your clothes, shoes, handbags, beauty supplies, and accessories for a month or more.

  • Are you still able to dress and care for yourself adequately?  
  • Are your closet and bathroom easier to keep in order?  
  • Do you find yourself being more creative about the outfits you put together?  
  • Do you feel less stress about what you wear each day?  
  • How does having less affect your laundry chores?  
  • Is there something you miss, or are you happier with less?

3.  Box up half of your knickknacks and/or wall art for a month or more.

  • Does your home feel bare, or is it still adequately decorated?  
  • Do you notice and enjoy the items that remain more than you did when your displays were more crowded?
  • How does having less affect your dusting or other cleaning chores?  
  • Is there something you miss, or are you happier with less?

4.  Box up half of your children's toys for a month or more.

  • Do they still manage to entertain themselves?  
  • How does this impact the creativity of their play, or their ability to share toys with each other?  
  • Does it make any difference to the level of mess and stress in your household?  
  • Is there anything they miss, or are they happier with less?

5.  Remove a piece of furniture for a month or more.

Choose the chair no one sits in, a curio cabinet or bookcase, or the desk that really functions as a clutter-catcher.  Do you miss it (and the things it contains), or do you prefer the open space?

6.  Live in fewer rooms for a month or more (just close the door).

If you also close off the heating/cooling vent, do you notice a change in your energy bill?  Do you miss the extra room, or has the closed door made you realize that you rarely even enter it?  Could you be just as happy in a smaller home?

Try an experiment with less today.

It's a revelation to find that we need less than we think to live comfortably.  It's the doorway to freedom and focus.

If you want to move on from the stress and frustration of a cluttered life, look for my book, Uncluttered: How Minimalism Can Help You Thrive, available on Amazon.*  It's a comprehensive guidebook to a simpler life; a creative, encouraging, multi-faceted guide to help you

  • remove the stuff that's bogging you down
  • uncover a cleaner, more spacious home that welcomes and supports you
  • escape the consumer treadmill
  • overcome bad habits and practice better ones
  • highlight your favorite belongings and memories
  • find time for what you care about

You can be happier with less, and this revised and expanded edition of Uncluttered will show you how.

* This blog is reader-supported.  When you buy through my links, I may earn a small commission.

Updated August 2023


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