I can think of dozens of sitcom scenes where someone’s asked to tidy up, usually before someone important shows up. Then, the funniest moment of the show occurs when an unsuspecting character opens a door… and loads of stuff comes pouring out. Haha… rolls on floor laughing.
We all hear the canned laughter.
These… ahem… iconic scenes portray an unfortunate part of the human condition — our inability to manage all the stuff we own. We shove it in corners, pile it on desks and tables, hide it behind cabinet or closet doors. We allow our possessions to stress us out.
There is something incredibly freeing about packing unwanted things in bags and boxes. That’s only one benefit. How about this one — I’m literally adding more steps on my fitness tracker with all the walking I’m doing around the house!
And as my favorite Carpenter’s song goes, “we’ve only just begun.”
“The secret of happiness, you see, is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less.” ~Socrates
I have so much more to do to reduce the quantity of my belongings. Each week, I’m trying to pick two projects. I culled kitchen pans and dishes, then opened all those doors and drawers in the dining room buffet. It took decades to accumulate all this crap and it won’t be gone overnight. Baby steps.
“There is only one way to eat an elephant: a bite at a time.” ~Desmond Tutu
Start with easy wins
Joshua Becker of the Becoming Minimalist website (and author of related books) recommends that you start small. Tackle a drawer, a closet, and get that winning feeling that comes from removing the remnants of a life you no longer live.
It’s easy to create roadblocks to achieving any goal. And we can be just as obstinate when it comes to sorting through our belongings, whether or not they’re prized items. The Minimalist Mom recommends you ask three simple questions about each item in your life:
- Do I use it?
- Do I need it?
- Can I live without it?
Sometimes we have to ask different questions about certain types of items. You know, like memorabilia, Grandma’s china, those cute ornaments your kids made in grade school. Those things always throw us for a loop. As much as I love my kids’ childish creations, I opted to gift them to each of my kids when they moved out. A start of their own Christmas collections! If they want to toss ’em, it’s on them, and not me. (I’ve enough parental guilt to last me a long while.)
I thought these two simple tips were helpful in addressing need vs. want:
- If it’s not a seasonal item and you haven’t used it in the last three months, you don’t need it.
- A family photo with no practical use still adds value if it makes you smile every time you pass by it. Keep it!
“There are two ways to be rich: One is by acquiring much, and the other is by desiring little.” ~Jackie French Koller
I did it!
I added an easy win earlier this year when I packed up my collection of snowmen. They decorated the top of my piano from Christmas through February. Last winter, I left several items in the storage bin because I didn’t really like them anymore. And besides, that burgeoning collection drifts onto the coffee table and a bookcase. So those items that lingered at the bin’s bottom are gone for good after I packed everything up.
We’ll see how things go when I decorate for the holidays in a few weeks.
Yes, I can do with less.