I’ve been living in Colombia for four months now, and today I had a simple, but fascinating realization. Since leaving the states, I haven't used any of the things I left back home, and the only shopping I've done has been for one, really cool shirt in the small coffee town of Salento.
On top of that, dishwashers, dryers, and microwave ovens don't exist here, and the only air conditioner I've had access to was in a hotel for a few days (thanks for visiting mom and dad!).
Not only did it take me four months to recognize that so many of my American essentials were missing from my life, but it took me equally as long to realize that none of these things really made my life any better. I’m just as happy, if not happier, without them.
Instead of rinsing dishes, putting them in a dishwasher, running the dishwasher, and then unloading it, I just wash my dishes immediately after eating.
Instead of watching my clothes shrink in the dryer, I mindfully walk them to my balcony where I hang them out in the sun.
Instead of shoving my leftovers in the microwave, I take a few minutes to get out a pan, and then heat my food up more naturally.
Although the luxuries we are afforded in the states seem like absolute necessities to us, there are easy, creative, and more mindful alternatives for each one.
My little realization got me thinking about what else I have back at home that I don’t truly need. Do I really need all of the summer clothes, shoes, supplements, hats, watches, and other miscellaneous junk that are just sitting back home?
I drove a car every single day in the states, and spent a copious amount of money on repairs and gas. Although I don’t work much in Colombia, I take the time to walk everywhere I need to go. Twenty minute walk to dinner? No problem. Fifteen minute walk to go teach a yoga class? Why not? Thirty minute walk and a metro ride to a language exchange? Easy.
Why did I feel the need to drive everywhere when it was almost as easy to walk, bike, take public transportation, or call an Uber? At home, I would spend thirty minutes driving, parking, paying for a meter, and then walking to a place that would take me less than twenty to bike to. Cars add a lot of stress to my mind, body, and wallet.
I could go on with an entire list of items that I no longer use or need here in Colombia, but the point I’m trying to make is that my life is a lot simpler here. I'm living out of a backpack of belongings and I'm happier, more mindful, and feel better than I did in the states.
Take some time for yourself to make a list of everything you keep around, that you don’t actually need. Unless it is a seasonal item, or treasured belonging, my new rule for you is this: if you don’t use it in three months, give it away.
By decluttering your life, you will not only save an insane amount of money, but you'll be giving your mind a break from all of the unnecessary stress that comes along with attaching yourself to material items.
What’s something in your life that you know you can get rid of? Leave a note in the comments!