Alright, alright…so every year I get this BIG idea that I am going to shape up my apartment to museum-style-minimalism and live happily ever after. And you guessed it, every year I take a few boxes to race t-shirts to the Good Will and I’m done for the year. What is it about our THINGS that have this possessive control over us?
As humans, our belief is that we buy things to feel better. However the research coming out says our possessions actually distract from our quality of life. A longitudinal study done in 2014 by Kasser et al followed two groups over 2 years collecting data on quality of life. The experiment group started out affluent and gradually possessions were subtracted from them. Each check point in the data reflected a higher quality of life reporting as the possessions dwindled (Kasser, 2014). Hurry, someone tell Gollum! According to this study and others our “Precious” may not be so precious when it comes rating our happiness.
So we KNOW that things are not what we need to be happy but how do we start “the purge”?
This brought my exploration on the subject to Marie Kondo’s book, The life changing magic of tidying up:
Joy or Naw?: Marie advises her clients to touch everything they own. Yes, EVERYTHING! For some of us this could be a whole day or week ordeal! The idea behind this is that we get personal with the THINGS we let into our home. When you touch an object do we feel joy? If yes, keep that joy in your life. If no, thank the object for its service and let it go! She advises doing this with one category of objects at a time (t shirts, dishes, furniture…) and stay focused on that task till it is done.
Have a relationship of respect for your belonging: We previously mentioned “thanking” an object for its service (you bought it for a reason, right?). For those items left, honor that service. Think of your things as living. They crave to be of service and use. Do you have fancy china or silver you only get out for special occasions? One could argue every day you wake up is a reason for a fancy tea party! Also in this relationship are you displaying pieces you are passionate about proudly? Are clothing items that made the cut crumpled up in a corner or organized by color and season? Once you have decided to release an object you allow its energy to return to you in another form. Intention is a huge part of this relationship between you and your belongings.
Nostalgia: Part of our mortality shows in our need to hold onto things. When decluttering, nostalgia is NOT our friend (This is why Marie suggests to leave pictures and keepsakes till last). Every drawing your child drew and every 5k t-shirt we earned ends up becoming a full time job to house! If you are having trouble discarding an object check yourself. Is it because:
-You are holding onto the past
-You fear for the future
- If neither, it either brings you joy or you are able to release it.
Again, reflect on service. That 5k was a symbol of a great 5k training with friends and a fun day but you don’t even wear size large anymore! Now, respect that memory and release the object before it becomes a burden.
What drives you?: I’m now transitioning back to my health coaching hat. Thinking about your motivation in life, what do you LOVE? Whether it is your kids, dog , traveling, social outings with friends; chances are what brings you pure joy can’t be hoarded as things. It’s more likely these things are holding you back from your joys. The giant house you need to keep because of the 2 car garage that only one car truly fits in, or the time with friends you have to pass up on because of the hours you work to maintain said house (car…lifestyle…input reason here). Lightening your load in the clutter category can set you up for your next adventurous chapter of life.
Autonomy, do you believe in you? Knowing yourself and trusting your decision making abilities will be everything during this experience. Do not waver. Use this as an empowering experience to feed your inner strengths. Stop doubting yourself. If you have read this far you are not only motivated to make change but you know deep down you have the gumption to GET IT DONE. #BossMode
Again, this is going to be a challenge. At times, it is going to get downright tough. But focusing on the WHY should get us through the HOW. Marie suggests making an experience out of this with no distractions. Focus on the prize; a clean, simple, joyous existence free to be/do/go whatever and wherever it is we desire.
Namaste Friends xoxoxo
Kasser ,Tim; Rosenblum, Katherine; Sameroff, Arnold.Changes in materialism, changes in psychological well-being: Evidence from three longitudinal studies and an intervention experiment. Motivation and Emotion, 2014, Volume 38, Number 1, Page 1
Kondō, Marie, and Cathy Hirano. The life-Changing magic of tidying up: the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing. Thorndike Press, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning, 2015.
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