Minimize Excess & Maximize Joy

By Katie O'Connor


We humans can often become focused on the search for something more. Maybe we’re looking for more meaning in our lives, dream jobs, relationships.   Many times when we are not quite “there,” we are not content. So how do we fill this void?

WE BUY STUFF, and lots of it. As much as I hate to admit it, I am guilty of this myself.

It wasn’t until I moved to Kittery, Maine this past summer that I realized the ridiculous amount of clothes I had accumulated. What was the point of all those shirts collecting dust in my dresser, taking up space, and cluttering my life? I couldn't remember actively going out in the world with the intention of increasing my wardrobe. So when exactly did I buy these things, and more importantly, why?

Subconsciously, I needed to make up for the fact that I wasn’t loving my job as a nurse; and when I left my position, I feared that I wasn't living up to the expectations of others. I didn’t know this then, but I was searching for something more. I needed something “good” in my life, so I bought the clothes. That'll help, right?!

Wrong. My growing wardrobe only made me feel heavier and worrisome.

I had to let go.

I started cleansing my wardrobe gradually, donating and selling at consignment shops. If I haven’t worn it five times in the last year, it was gone. This process can be quite difficult.  Releasing items you feel sentimentally connected to is challenging; but at the end of the day, is it the shirt you bought on your trip that’s valuable to you, or is it the actual experience and the memory of the trip itself? By some miracle, I managed to trickle down my closet to the necessities, and it was liberating!

My room was organized; which, quite honestly, was rare. There were no more useless items projecting useless feelings at me from my drawers. The weight was lifted from my shoulders. I felt light. I felt free to do anything, beyond the walls of the room containing my belongings. Everything I had was all I needed, and I was content with that.

It is so empowering, finding content in just being you. You become unlimited.

I was able to get back to reality and to fueling my joy. The world spoke to me, “Get out here, there is nothing for you in that room but some meaningless shirts!” You don’t need them to be happy, and you will not find happiness in buying more. Possessions are not a part of me. I alone am myself, in my life. That is where I find bliss, where I find wealth.

I don’t have much, and I am prosperous. I have a lovely little room in an old house shared with five other people. I have the mountains, the rivers, and the world to explore. I have friends and family who love me, food on my table, and joy in my heart.

I've learned that wealth cannot be found in possessions. True wealth is the power to find value in people, health, experiences, and adventures.

There may be times where you find yourself buying nonessential items for life’s adventures (i.e. outdoor gear).  When you find yourself making a purchase, the important thing is to do so mindfully. What is the impact of your purchase? Where is it from? Is it necessary? Will you use it?

So I invite you to take a look around your world, and ask yourself, “What is valuable to me?” I value living simply and fully. I believe, if you minimize the excess in your life, you will in turn maximize your joy.


Katie is a yoga doin’, food lovin’, singin’ adventure lady. She finds herself smiling while paddling a canoe, hiking in the Whites, and playing music around campfires with friends. As a registered nurse and yoga teacher to-be, she hopes to help others find wellness in a holistic way. Check out Katie and her contagious energy here.