Oprah’s What Can You Live Without Experiment
I was really happy to see another of Oprah's frugal and simple living series she's been having lately called 'What Can You Live Without Challenge".
I think that it has been becoming obvious to a lot of people over the past year or more that living to the excess is not in our best interest.
It has been creating an unrest in a lot of us for quite a few reasons.
- There is too much to manage. As Peter Walsh says, it's just 'all too much'. This truly can suck the life out a home and family.
- We don't feel in control. Somewhere buried beneath the clutter and mindless activity is the knowledge that we are making choices that are not in our best interest that we will have to pay for sooner or later.
- We lose touch. Many of us find ourselves perturbed because although we have everything, we don't feel fulfilled. That is because the constant toys – computers, tv's, games, texting etc keep us away from things that make us feel centered and in touch – with ourselves and the earth that nurtures us. Ask kids these days about dirt. I would not be surprised that some of them don't know what it is because they've played most of their short life in pretend dirt on the computer.
Just as I was truly seeing the benefits in cutting back and focusing on getting back to the simple life, Oprah's shows have been confirming what I have been feeling and how society as a whole has fallen into this trap of toys, credit and not having to be accountable for our spending.
And how it really has not made us happy.
I know personally, almost the minute I started on my own 'Making Change' Simple Home Budget System I felt a load lifted from my shoulders, and to feel like my old self again. One who is in control of her own life.
Almost everyone has something that they can live without.
For us, the biggest change was going to using a cash system. I love it.
There are also little things.
I just don't purchase things on a whim anymore.
I look for alternatives.
Instead of buying books, I started going to the library again.
I've saved $35 per month by cutting back on our monthly TV channel subscriptions. Not so long ago I thought we were down to the bare bones of necessity. Time changes!
If there's nothing on that we usually watch, we can find something else to do, or watch something on a different channel. (thank goodness I didn't lose the Oprah channels!! That might have been taking it too far :0)
SO WHAT ARE SOME OF THE HIGHLIGHTS OF THE SHOW
One thing that I noticed is that Oprah had a few of the families follow some rules for one week.
I love this idea. Some of them were tough. The point as Oprah puts it was to make the family live more conscious for one week.
And that is the thing.
If you can do that, you can do it all.
The funny thing was, that when the week was over, it was eye opening as to what they really needed.
Even bigger, a lot of the things the new behaviors were preferred by the time the week was over.
WHY THE STUFF
One of the ladies lost her husband in a tragic accident while saving his son from drowning on a fishing trip. So sad. She had a great life and 5 children with him.
She was feeling that the stuff made her feel like she was ok – masking the pain and hiding it from others. She was literally burying her feelings in things and hiding behind them as if they were the truth.
There are lots of reasons for stuff.
One of the biggest IS that stuff is perfect for hiding behind. One way or the other.
WANT TO KNOW MY SECRET?
I collected things, mostly clutter, nothing terribly fancy except my books. But things were everywhere.
Because this gave me a reason to postpone doing things that I didn't want to do because I was 'too busy'.
It allowed me to be very selfish.
It gave me an excuse to put off doing what I feared. And a place to hide.
It worked well for many years.
Of course I didn't consciously do this, but I did figure out what I was doing after some time and it didn't stop me. At the very least, I realized what all of the clutter and hiding was keeping me from.
How about you?
What's with all the stuff in your house?
CREATING SPACE AND SHIFTS IN THINKING
A really good point that came up on the show was that simplifying isn't about denying yourself, or punishing yourself.
It's about opening up space for other things.
Using my 'secret' example above, getting rid of the things and now moving onto getting rid of excess spending, has slowly opened up space to do things. I don't have the stress that was strapping me of my confidence before and confining me.
I DO find myself saying yes to things that I normally wouldn't even consider, or would shrug off. Things like spending more time with my family on weekends rather than hiding at my computer (which by the way, was one of Oprah's rules for the family's, no computer for a week. I personally think that's a fantastic thing to do for the family. Now I just need Oprah to come and tell my family to unplug for the week!)
SUZE ORMAN'S LIST
The show today was inspired by Suse Orman's list of things not to do. Which ironically is the same show and list that inspired me to start my 'Making Change' system. She was hitting it that day!
Here's a recap of her list from the show.
- Don't spend money for one day.
- Don't use your credit card for one week.
- Don't eat in a restaurant for one month.
Try it. This could be the beginning of something great for you.
SIMPLER = HAPPIER?
Another lady who was stock piling loads of things said that 15 years ago all of her belongings fit into 2 suitcases and she was happier.
I can relate to that too.
As I've been simplifying and scaling back I find myself feeling so much more in touch with my true self, the one that was 'me' with no effort many years ago. I guess that's what happens when you quit hiding behind stuff and keeping yourself doing so much busywork that your life passes you by.
Don't fall into that trap.
There is so much more in less!
GROCERIES = THROWING DOLLARS IN THE GARBAGE
Another good point. How much are you throwing in the garbage in outdated food?
Since I started getting more in tune with our grocery shopping bill, we throw out less, but still too much.
Oprah made a good point when she said that if you look at the food you throw out as their dollar value, it makes it much more appealing to use that stuff before it goes bad!
NO SHOPPING ONLINE OR IN STORES
NO ORDERING TAKE OUT OR RESTAURANTS
TURN OFF TV OR INTERNET FOR ENTIRE WEEK
BOX CLOSET THINGS THAT HADN'T BEEN WORN FOR 2 MONTHS AND STORE FOR THE WEEK.
It is interesting to me that the first three of these things fall into what I call Control Accounts in 'Making Change'.
I haven't gotten down to shutting down completely for a week, but as I mentioned, I have cut down on our overall services.
I haven't boxed up things but I can see the value in it. Even with some heavy duty spring cleaning last year, I have got clothes hanging in my closet that I haven't worn for a long time. It may be time to take it to the next level.
You can read what I wrote about my last closet clean out and my spring cleaning challenge.
Decluttering – Another Layer Bites the Dust
If you're living in clutter, feeling overwhelmed with all of your stuff, or wanting to cut down on your expenses, I hope that you have a good look at the points above and take action.
Check out Oprah's website to get more What Can You Live Without Challenge Experiment tips.
Have a Shiney Day :0)
- Suze Orman – Free Download on Oprah’s Live Your Best Life Week
- America’s Thriftiest Family on Oprah
- Clean Up Your Messy House Tour on Oprah
- How To Have the Thriftiest Holiday Ever from Oprah
- Setting Boundaries Saves Money
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