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We live in a world where we are lead to believe that more means better.
More wealth, more possessions, increased popularity, and overall greater satisfaction.
Unfortunately we all know this is usually not the case, and often has the opposite effect.
How many times have we heard of the big lottery winner who ends up becoming bankrupt and losing everything they had, including their newly found friends?
Obviously I’d be delighted to win the lottery, (although I don’t play it!) and I’m sure it would make a huge difference to my life – as it probably would to yours.
However, I’m also acutely aware that I have so much more than the majority of people in the world today.
How often do you get frustrated with yourself when you look around your home and see a ton of stuff you really don’t need, and shouldn’t have really bought?
I get that feeling constantly, even though I don’t have that much ‘stuff’ anyway.
Why We Have So Much Stuff
We accumulate so many possessions because they are either cheap, or we have more disposable income to buy more.
So our homes become filled with a bunch of crap we never use, wear, watch, listen-to etc.
Our Need For Possessions
For many people, having possessions is a subconscious form of security, and so getting rid of them can be an emotional issue.
Here are some examples of possession and security link:
- Having a wardrobe(s) full of clothes, means you’re prepared for any social situation.
- A large house means physical security from the elements, a place to hold a large family if you decide to have lots of children, and to host any event.
- Having a garage or shed full of tools, means you are prepared for any house-hold chores, break-downs, or emergencies.
- Having the latest gadgets ensure you keep up with the latest technology and never miss an email, text, phone-call or TV show.
- Having the latest car means you don’t need to worry about breaking down. It proves to the rest of the world you’re a successful person.
In reality these possessions don’t provide the security you think they do, and you can easily manage your life without them.
If you tracked all the clothes you wore for a year, you’ll discover the majority of the ‘just in case’ items, were never worn.
You could easily get rid of these without any loss of security.
Downsizing to a smaller house doesn’t make you more vulnerable to the wind and rain!
In a smaller house you have less to worry about, less to clean, a smaller mortgage and lower running costs.
With a smaller space you are forced to make important choices as to what possessions you need.
Gadgets are a classic example of security.
But you don’t need to upgrade to the latest version when what you have, works just fine.
Keep it until it breaks or no longer does the job you bought it for.
Do you really need to be contactable 24 hours a day?
Do you need a Facebook account, a Twitter account, and 5 email addresses?
By removing all but the necessary online communication channels, you’ll have far more freedom, and less stress.
Possessions can keep us trapped and bogged down.
Let go of the need for possessions by realizing you don’t need them for security.
Have you ever noticed the feeling you get after getting rid of stuff, such as clothes, ornaments, gadgets, kitchen items, unused sporting gear etc?
Giving unwanted/unused items to charity, recycling them, or simply throwing them out, can actually feel just as good as buying them in the first place!
Also, when you buy something new, such as a pair of shoes or a new car, the feeling of excitement you initially get, only lasts a short while.
Once you’ve worn your shoes a couple of times or driven your new car for a month, the euphoric feeling soon wears off.
Not only that, you may even experience negative feelings after purchasing more things, such as being unfulfilled or guilt.
A room or area in your home that has been completely de-cluttered, can give you a real feeling of empowerment, as well as relieving a lot of potential stress.
These are positive feelings that can last a very long time (a lot longer than the short lived feelings you get when buying something new) and has a knock-on effect in other areas of your life.
Only the other day, I took a car load of household stuff that has been laying around in various storage places for years, to my local recycling plant.
I dug out a lot of old bedding – quilts, pillows; an old hose pipe and some broken tools from the shed; 2 pc monitors; two old pc’s, and a lot of accumulated rubbish from the garage.
It really does feel liberating knowing these items are no longer clogging up my home.
I’ve also advertised a dozen other items on a local, online ‘sales and wants’ notice board.
So I’m de-cluttering and making a few pennys in the process.
You Are A Reflection of Your Home
They say a dog owner is very much a reflection of the type of dog they own. Likewise our home is usually a mirror image of ourselves.
The size, décor, lighting, color schemes, cleanliness, and what we have in our home, all say a little something about us.
An efficient, organized, and successful person, tends to live in house that reflects this.
Their home is probably neat and tidy, clean, and well maintained.
It certainly won’t be full of crap and unnecessary items that make the place look cluttered and disorganized.
Even if you have young children, you can still control what comes in and what goes out of the home.
Stuff You Can Get Rid Of To Help Declutter Your Home
“Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” ~ William Morris
For some people, getting rid of stuff is an extremely difficult task, even if they know they should.
If you think you might be of a similar ilk, here are a few suggestions to help you get rid of a load of shit from your home de-clutter:
Look through your wardrobe for clothes you haven’t worn for over a year.
There’s obviously a reason you’ve not worn something, so if it’s been over 12 months, give it away to charity or advertise it on ebay.
Try the coat hanger method.
Hang all your clothes the right way round. When yo come to wear them, hang them back up the wrong way.
After 6 or 12 months you’ll soon discover the clothes you never wear.
Do the same with shoes. That includes all forms of footwear such as flip-flops, boots, etc.
A lot of people have magazine subscriptions, and keep every back issue for years. Even newspapers!
My Aunties’ husband – Geoff, had car magazines going back to the 1960’s! He eventually sold them all (over 1000 issues) on ebay to a private magpie collector.
How often do you actually dig out an old magazine and read it again? Probably never.. so get rid!
- Kitchen Items
How many pan sets do you actually need?
The popcorn maker that hasn’t even come out of the box!
Kitchen gadgets build up over time and we end up storing them in a cupboard, just in case we one day need that electric grape peeler!
What about all those wine glasses you’ve accumulated over the years?
When was the last time you had a good clear out of your food cupboard?
There will often be food items well past their ‘sell by’ date, which need chucking. Do the same for your fridge and freezer.
Old pillows, quilts, duvet sets and sheets that have been stored for those ‘just in case’ times when 12 people might unexpectedly stay over!
Yep that was me, until the other day. All gone now, except one old duvet which I will use to line the boot of my car for further trips to the recycling plant.
There’s no need to keep physical copies of statements anymore.
Almost every utility company and banks etc. have an online facility for you to access your details.
Let them keep a record, rather than cluttering up your home with them.
There will still be the inevitable paperwork dropping through the door, and you should have a little filing cabinet or storage area for them.
However, try and get all your finances arranged online.
You might read a really good book a couple of times – 3 at the most.
After that it will be sat on a book shelf or put somewhere out of sight, never to be read again.
Either give it away to charity, sell it, or swap it with another one.
Better still, use a library so you have to return it.
If you’ve already got an electronic book reader, use that to keep your book collection. You can store vast libraries on those things, and you can keep them forever if you want.
The same applies to CDs and DVDs as books. These days we can access all our music and entertainment online or stored on a computer.
Sell that huge collection now, while they’re still actually worth anything. Before long it will all (more or less) be digital anyway.
- Photo Albums
This is definitely on my ‘to do’ list.
I can count on 1 hand how many times I’ve dug out old photo albums and looked through them. They just sit in a box in my loft, collecting dust.
If you simply can’t part with them, scan them onto a computer or laptop and back them up on an external hard drive.
Throw only but the most precious ones away, but be ruthless!
- Old Letters/Cards
As per photo albums, the same applies to old letters, cards that you’ve kept from your 18th Birthday, Valentine’s Day from age 10, etc.
How De-cluttering Improves Your Life
Living with less, whether it be possessions or online information, is a truly liberating experience.
It’s as if each item that leaves the house, improves the quality of your life.
From the words of minimalist guru Leo Babauta, less means..
You spend less.
You need less storage.
You need a smaller house.
You have less stress.
You spend less time searching for things.
You are less distracted by clutter.
You are more focused.
You are able to travel more quickly.
You have more time to do the stuff you enjoy.
Less helps you to learn the value of quality.
Less is more sustainable.
Less is freedom.
Less is beautiful.
I highly recommend Leo’s book The Power of Less: The Fine Art of Limiting Yourself to the Essential…in Business and in Life.
Your life will be better for reading it!