How Netflix is helping my move toward simplicity

We’re looking at the controlling principles of simplicity outlined by Richard Foster in his book Celebration of Discipline each Wednesday here on the blog … and guess what number five is {drumroll, please!}:

Learn to enjoy things without owning them.



Yep, it’s true … Netflix has become a key in my move toward simplicity.  And, I didn’t even realize it until I started working on this post.   Perhaps you are wondering what the relationship is between our Netflix subscription and my move toward simplicity … allow me to explain.

  • We have always bought movies that we love.
  • We have movies we rarely {never?} watch.
  • We own multiple television series in their entirety.
  • We have movies that have never even been opened – bought because they were a great deal.

The results of this habit include:

  • One closet is nearly full of movies – this affects my storage space and the clutter in my house.
  • Untold monies spent on movies that have been watched one time … or even less.
  • Buying movies we already own because we didn’t realize we already had it … because it’s in the scary closet with no light where the movies are in piles, stacks, and layers.
  • We still never can find anything worth watching!

Foster says this of controlling principle number five:

Owning things is an obsession in our culture.  If we own it, we feel we can control it; and if we can contrl it, we feel it will give us more pleasure.  The idea is an illusion.  Many things in life can be enjoyed without possessing or controlling them.  Share things.  Enjoy the beach without feeling you have to buy a piece of it.  Enjoy public parks and libraries. (93)

I’m sure that Netflix isn’t THE answer, but for us, for me, it’s a step.   Moving toward simplicity isn’t simple … but it is simple step after simple step.

I’ve resolved to enjoy the beach that’s less than 20 minutes from my house more.

I’m going to use the library for fiction books that I would normally buy.

And I’ve already borrowed jewelry for a special event rather than buying pieces I am not sure how often I would wear.

Netflix, library cards, and borrowing jewelry aren’t magical habits; but, they have become outward evidence of an internal change of heart and mind.

In what ways do you practice this principle of enjoying things without owning them?

Previous posts on the controlling principles of simplicity:

  1. Why I don’t own a Macbook
  2. Apparently my but is really big
  3. Finally, something I already do
  4. And the painful process continues

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9 Replies to “How Netflix is helping my move toward simplicity”

  1. We use Netflix as well. I love it because we can choose exactly what we watch and are not bombarded with ads. A few weeks ago my husband and I went through our DVDs (two shelves worth – not a lot, but more than we need) and started selling them to Amazon for gift cards. We did not get what we paid for them, but the empty shelf space is worth it.
    Mrs. V recently posted…Make Your Own Dishwasher SoapMy Profile

    1. Teri Lynne Underwood says: Reply

      What a great idea! I need to look into selling ours … I hadn’t thought of that! Thank you!

  2. I love this-I am doing the same-simplifying and borrowing. We love to check out dvds from the library too for free. Love you!
    Christina Burrell recently posted…Adoption Auction and Fundraising OpportunityMy Profile

    1. Teri Lynne Underwood says: Reply

      Good idea, Christina! Thanks! Love you, too!

  3. I just recently got a library card. I have checked out one book. It was a cost saver of about 12 dollars, AND it forced me to actually read the book instead of just add it to my massive pile of “to-read” books. I hope to make this more of a habit for fiction books.

    1. Teri Lynne Underwood says: Reply

      AND it forced me to actually read the book instead of just add it to my massive pile of “to-read” books.

      Ahh, yes, the “to be read” pile … I’m acquainted with that as well. And yes, the library does help manage that!

  4. Becky Castle Miller says: Reply

    I love this! We adore Netflix, especially instant streaming. My husband and I are decluttering this month, and this post makes me realize one of the things we could declutter is a lot of our movies.
    Becky Castle Miller recently posted…Twinkle Twinkle- Meet SaschaMy Profile

    1. Teri Lynne Underwood says: Reply

      Thanks, Becky!

  5. […] From being honest about why I wanted a MacBook {because all the cool kids have them} to learning to enjoy things without owning them, this one lesson has been proven time and […]

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