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60,000 Thoughts & Things! What do we really need?

Dear TEDlers

I am from Switzerland and I write a Blog (in German) about media, innovation & inspiration.

I have a very interesting topic I recently found out about - after clearing out my Dad's apartment & making some research with friends:

*** 60,000 THOUGHTS & THINGS ***

In the Western World we possess some 60,000 things. Each one of us, on average. Fascinating – 60,000 is also the number of our daily thoughts, on average!

How many of those 60,000 thoughts are positive, inspiring, helpful? Only 3 – 5% on average, let’s say some 3,000 positive thoughts.

What about the rest? Almost 1/3 of our daily thoughts is neutral or helpful to others, and almost 2/3 are more or less useless or even damaging or painful.

How many things do we need out of these 60,000? (this number sounds high, but keep in mind that - just to give you some examples - every pencil is an object, every shirt, every spoon, every booklet, card, photo, bill and so on is one thing ... it quickly adds up to pretty high numbers ...).

Maybe we only need some 3,000 things?
Still sounds like a lot - but it isn't ... This would mean clear cutbacks ...

What do you think?

Detailed information on this subject, how I found out about it and much more you find on my Blog (available only in German, I'm sorry):


I think these words by William Morris (nicely illustrated by the American artist Lisa Congdon) say it best:



We better remember this old & wise American saying:

"If you don't plant flowers in the garden of your mind, you'll forever pull weeds."

Or you have to get rid of (too much) stuff ...

Kind regards

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    • Jan 18 2013: Thank you so much, Kate - especially for the very first comment on my very first TED Conversation!
      Greez, Astrid
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    Jan 19 2013: A simple life is a great life.

    There is less to dust, less to wash, less to organize, less time needed to figure out what to wear, etc.

    I think that the desire to simplify, and get rid of "stuff", may come from various sources.......for me it came when I started to think about my parents deaths. I thought, oh boy, what I'm I going to do with all their things?

    Then I thought of the burden I would put on my own kids if something were to happen to me. I started little by little to get rid of things from my own house.

    My kids were motivated to not buy useless stuff by watching a show on hoarders.........these programs are very enlightening....they get you to think about how terrible it is to keep all sorts of junk in your house that you do not use or need.

    I make it a goal every two or three months to go through my house and give away, throw away, or sell things I have not used. I also implement a one in/one out rule. Buy a pair of shoes, give away/throw away an old pair. Buy a toy, give away/throw out an old toy.

    We decluttered our back yard....pulled out all plants that were high maintenance, and painted our fence....it is such a relief not having to pick up leaves, and be on the lookout for pests.....

    And while decluttering is a do-it-yourself project..........I find that getting rid of a negative pattern of thinking ........as an undo-it-yourself project. It's like losing weight.....it takes alot of effort and a bit longer than other projects, and one can slide back into the old patterns of thinking, so one has to be very vigilant, and choose friends that are also positive.

    Great topic....congratulations on posting your first conversation Astrid, I hope you'll have many more!

    • Jan 19 2013: "I think that the desire to simplify, and get rid of "stuff", may come from various sources.......for me it came when I started to think about my parents deaths. I thought, oh boy, what I'm I going to do with all their things?"

      *** Thank you, Mary - that was also a major influence in my case. My Dad was suffering for ages from a massive "compulsive hoarding" (in German it's called "Messie Disease", derived from the English word "mess"!). If that runs in the family - you better develop "strategies" to deal with (too much) stuff ...

      You better start "planting flowers" ... one way or another ...

      Kind regards,
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