What can I live without?

Try finding this question in any ad copy anywhere, “What can I live without?”  If you do, please email it to me and I’ll feature it in the blog.  As a trained consumer, it’s a question I would never ask.  As a budding minimalist, it’s a question I ask all the time.

As I walk through my house I consider getting rid of something else.  Can I live without that table?  What about that couch?  Do I need all of those books?  Could I sell a few of those DVDs?  At times I get a little crazy.  I could really live with almost nothing, but that isn’t the point of asking the question.

The point is to reduce the clutter of your life so that you can do the work of living.  Do you feel limited in what you can do because of how much you have to do before you can actually start your work?  Laundry needs doing, the house needs cleaning, countless emails need reading, and the house is dirty again.  You can add to this list forever and every single thing you add to the list is one more thing keeping you from your life.

Ask yourself, “What can I live without?”  Start the process of decluttering your home.  I know it seems daunting.  Most people I know try to ignore the problem so they can pretend it doesn’t exist.  That makes as much sense as ignoring cancer.  Both will steal your story from you if you let them.

Start small.  Dump your extra clothes so laundry can’t pile up into a three-day affair.  Get rid of the things that pile up on counter tops and desks.  Eat the elephant one bite at a time.  When you start answering the question, you’ll be amazed at how much you can happily live without.  As you make space for your story to unfold, you’ll be glad you did.


About Brandon Simpson

Teacher & Curioso
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7 Responses to What can I live without?

  1. Dan Sealana says:


    I found your site while searching the #minimalism tag on Twitter. Nice to meet you.

    For just under two years, I lived with Catholic priests who took vows of poverty, lived a simple lifestyle and only had (horror of horrors) basic cable and one TV. I got used to not watching a large amount of TV since our entertainment room was upstairs in a small room, which made TV viewing a special event instead of a plop in front of the couch after work daily devotion.

    Now that I no longer live with those priests, I still don’t have a TV — a thought that would be unthinkable to me just a few years ago. On the rare occasions that I do watch TV, I’m very sensitive to the manipulative nature and often disturbed by the advertisements.

    For me, refraining from watching a lot of TV and the hours of manipulative marketing that goes along with it has been a great help in my journey towards minimalism.

  2. @Dan – Thanks for the thoughtful reply! My wife and I have found the same thing to be true. We have been without a TV in our house for about a year now. Next step is to limit the ’empty’ time online to further clear out time to enjoy our lives and do things that are meaningful.

  3. Brando, thanks for your nice post.

    I’ve just started to live without papers.

    For years, I’ve been keeping papers (invoices, bills, receipts, etc) ‘just in case’ i might need them. These papers are piled up in a paper-holder. They are then transferred to a drawer when it’s full. When the drawer is full, they are transferred to a big plastic bag and kept in the storeroom. The cycle continues…till about a month ago, when i decide ‘enough is enough’.

    Wanting to adopt a minimalist lifestyle, i decide to live with less papers.

    Now, i use my iphone to photograph all new incoming papers. These photos are uploaded via DropBox app. I will keep the hardcopies for about 1 month before they are thrown away. I also subscribe to paperless credit card statements from banks whenever possible.

    Now, I feel ‘freer’ with ‘less things’ to take care. ‘Paperless’ living is possible with help from technology.

    Regards, Joshua

  4. @Joshua – That is a brilliant solution! Thanks for taking the time to share it.

  5. A says:

    Its an awesome feeling when you realize something that has been cluttering your life for years can now be shrugged off like a heavy weight from your shoulders. TV, dozens of useless clothes, movies you never watch, drawers full of junk, and half a million other useless pieces of material clutter.

    • Dan Sealana says:

      I don’t understand the appeal of having a large DVD or Blu-ray collection. I can’t think of that many movies that I enjoy so much that I need to keep them for the rest of my life. I’m fine with renting a DVD every now and then from the little red box.

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