I’m inspired by Ruth of Living Well Spending Less, who in 2012 took her kids’ toys away after noticing a lack of contentment in her oldest daughter. She took “all their dress-up clothes, baby dolls, Polly Pockets, & stuffed animals, all their Barbies, building blocks, and toy trains, right down to the the furniture from their dollhouse and play food from their kitchen.”
That got me thinking – what would it be like if someone took my toys away? Ruth noticed that,
Instead of being bored, they seem to have no shortage of things to do. Their attention span is much longer and they are able to mindfully focus on their task at hand. They color or read for hours at a time and happily spend the entire afternoon playing hide & seek or pretend.
They are far more content, able to appreciate the blessings that they do have, and able to truly enjoy the moment they are in without always having to move on to the next thing. They are more creative and patient, more willing to share, far more empathetic towards the plight of others, and, with little to fight over, they hardly fight at all…
They like not being overwhelmed by stuff and not having to spend so much time cleaning their room. In fact, later that very same day, as we drove to gymnastics class, Princess said it’s okay that we don’t have any more toys Mommy. We can just read and use our imaginations. And now we won’t have to clean up every day. She understood before I did that more stuff doesn’t make us happier.
That sounds really good to me.
As adults, it’s unlikely that anyone will take our things away to teach us to be content, creative, or grateful. The burden is on us now to change our habits and surroundings if necessary. Some handle this by boxing away their things until they realize they don’t need them, by living on 100 items, by covering their stuff with sheets to get some clarity.
But I like the thought experiment – what if all my “toys” were taken away? No laptop would be a HUGE one. How often do you fall into the Internet rabbit hole? How would I occupy myself?
I would probably… do more yoga | read one book at a time | write profusely | dance by myself | play more piano | go for walks | make complex meals | work out | draw | write letters | have meaningful conversations | …
What would you do if you didn’t have your toys?