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Less is more ... and why

Were you first in line at one of the big box stores this past Black Friday? I get it. Everybody likes and wants a good deal.

Whether buying for yourself or another, did you stop and think about what you were in line for? Was it a need or a want? After the four basic needs — food, shelter, clothing, water — are met, the rest is just "stuff."

Can we find happiness in this stuff? The more things we have, the more we want. Will that latest gadget really make us happy? We often say to ourselves, "If I only had x I would be happier" or "My life would be easier."

In my work as a personal organizer, I help many people who are overwhelmed with their belongings. They don't know where to put the things they have or they can't find items when they need them. All these personal belongings are not making them happy.

Fewer belongings equal fewer things to maintain. A smaller home equals smaller utility bills and is easier to maintain.

Every item that we purchase has a backstory, each having an environmental and human toll. Not only does the item use resources to manufacture, but take a look at the packaging of an item. Often the packaging uses just as much resources as the original item that we wanted.

I believe you can find fulfillment in simplicity. If you are ready to reduce and live a life of less, start by going through each room in your house, closet and drawer. Be brutal. As you pick up or look at each item, ask yourself: Does this ENHANCE my life or suck the life out of me? Is this an ASSET or LIABILITY? Weed out the life-suckers and liabilities and you will begin to feel lighter. Reducing will also save time and money and you will leave a smaller carbon footprint on our planet.

Graham Hill is one of the founders of treehugger.com and LifeEdited.com and is an expert on reducing. His tagline is "Design your life to include more money, health and happiness with less stuff, space and energy." He is also a popular TED talk presenter. In his LifeEdited project, he purchased (and lives in) a 420-square-foot apartment in New York City. He demonstrates how people can have everything they need using less stuff and space.

TED talks

TED talks are short, powerful talks less than 20 minutes long. They first began at a Technology, Entertainment and Design conference.

A few years ago, I was involved in a focus group to bring the TEDx group to Duluth. A TEDx event is a local gathering where live TED-like talks and videos previously recorded at TED conferences are shared with the community.

Fast-forward to October 2014. Northlanders Ryan Bauers and David Broman started a TED-like event downtown Duluth at Teatro Zuccone, 222 E. Superior St., called TED at the Teatro. These talks run once a month, October through May. Each month a video of a TED talk is shown and also a local person speaks on that topic.

A Q&A is held afterward. A suggested donation of $5 is appreciated to cover expenses.These events give people in our community a platform for open discussion. They have the potential to open eyes and broaden perspectives.

I will be giving the December talk 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 16. My talk will be about living with less and finding fulfillment in simplicity. I welcome you to come learn that it is possible to have a quality life with less stuff.

Kim Schlichting is a professional organizer and founder of Northland Organizing. Her website is www.northlandorganizing.com.

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