Home > Personal Finance > Discardia: Not Anti-Stuff, Just Pro-Awesome

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Getting started with Discardia from Dinah Sanders on Vimeo.

In 2002 Dinah Sanders started a personal holiday called Discardia. As she writes in her book, Discardia: More Life, Less Stuff, her quarterly festival celebrates “unconsumption, the slow movement, downshifting, and voluntary simplicity.” In other words, it’s about getting rid of stuff so you can enjoy a richer life.

Sanders (who maintains a blog called Discardia) believes that many people mistakenly seek the good life by acquiring lots of things and experiences and then try to shoehorn these into an already overcrowded life. But Sanders maintains that the good life is better achieved by taking the opposite approach: stripping away the layers of material, habitual and emotional cruft that we accumulate over time to reveal a more meaningful, engaging, and manageable way to live.

That’s easier said than done, of course. But Sanders’ book lays out a detailed plan to divest yourself of anything that “doesn’t add value to your life.” Instead of challenging the reader to emulate Hercules mucking out the Augean Stables, Sanders approach is to take on bite-sized tasks that conform to three core principles:

  1. Decide and Do (Self-examination and a plan of action)
  2. Quality Over Quantity (Focusing on what’s valuable in your life and getting rid of what isn’t beautiful or useful)
  3. Perpetual Upgrade (Recognizing what works and apply that successful behavior to problem areas of your life)

Sander’s 282-page book is brimming with little tips that will help you “nudge toward less awful.” Here are a few of my favorites:

* Keep a handy “charity box” for tossing in things that you don’t use but aren’t trash.

* Write down your top goals, save them as a text file, and set your web browser to display the goals as your home page.

* Instead of looking at your email when you start work for the day, spend 30 minutes on a high-priority project.

* Turn your hanging clothes around so the hooks point toward you. When you wear something, replace it on the rod by turning the hanger around (point side away). After one year, get rid of all the clothes with the hangers still pointing toward you.

There are also suggestions for reducing credit card debt, making a budget and avoiding overspending.

Even if you don’t feel like your life needs an overhaul, everyone could use some fine-tuning. Discardia, which offers plenty of useful advice, is one of the best “life hacking” books I’ve come across.

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