James Wallman is the man behind the concept of ‘stuffocation’. This is the idea that many of us have more stuff than we need cluttering up our homes AND that this STUFF is making us feel stressed. In his renowned book Stuffocation, James Wallman “traces our obsession with stuff” and offers an alternative called “experientialism” – the pursuit of happiness and living a meaningful life through experiences rather than stuff.
I was reminded of Wallman’s principles when I was having a ‘clear-out’ last weekend. The realisation came to me that the more I threw out the ‘lighter’ and more liberated I felt.
I also recognised that I was already worrying about all the new ‘stuff’ we would collect over the festive period and where we would put it all. After all we are a family of 5 (plus two cats!) in a terrace house in south-east London – space is definitely at a premium. Now I don’t want to sound ungrateful. Gratitude is a cornerstone of Mindfulness and I appreciate how especially generous my nearest and dearest are at this time of year. However, I can’t get away from the fact that I do spend lots of my time clearing out and trying to get rid of ‘stuff’ that is cluttering up the house. And I don’t think I am alone in this.
So rather than my usual ‘smash and grab’ approach to Christmas shopping I am going to approach the process more mindfully this year. My mission will be to try not to add to any ‘stuffocation’ that my family and friends may also already be feeling.
So far I have come up with these ideas for adults:
- Afternoon tea: this year instead of getting gifts for each other two friends and I decided to have afternoon tea together at a (fairly) posh London hotel. For the same price we usually spend on each other for Christmas we had a lovely afternoon catching up with each other and enjoying some delicious treats too!
- A magazine subscription: for a few years now I have been receiving the Red magazine every month and I love getting it through the post on a regular basis. This is a real treat and something that brings a little bit of joy to your recipient time and again!
- Family membership to the National Trust (or something equivalent that is local to the person you are gifting to): we love our days out to National Trust places close by to us. These encourage us to get outdoors and enjoy mindful moments and mindful walks together. We get to go to these places courtesy of my in-laws purchasing the membership for us at Christmas every year. Other places in our area that do family memberships that we are tempted to buy for friends and family are the Royal Greenwich Museums and Penshurst Place.
- A charitable donation: I think we all mean to donate a little more to charity than we actually do and so this is a lovely gift to give a busy person who may want to practice a bit more ‘kindfulness’ . It’s thoughtful to consider a charity a person may have a particular affinity with and then donate to this on their behalf writing a very personal explanation in a card. Some charities to consider donating to for people may be the NSPCC, Bliss or MIND.
Do you think you may be suffering from ‘stuffocation’ yourself?
Do you know others who may be ‘stuffocation’?
What are your thoughts about buying things that aren’t STUFF for people fo Christmas?
By the way happy December everyone! xx