In the popular book by Marie Kondo, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, she recommends that as you sort through your belongings, you hold each item to help you determine whether it sparks joy. If the item doesn’t spark joy, you should remove it from your home (e.g., donate it, recycle it, repurpose it or toss it, as appropriate).
If I hold an item and it’s not sparking joy, then what is it sparking? Oftentimes, for me, it’s guilt.
I’ve been known to hold a beautiful scarf in my hands and turn it over a few times, only to gently put it back into the same drawer it came from. And there it sits for another 6-12 months until I open the drawer, take it out, feel the fabric run through my hands, mumble to myself with regret about the amount of hard-earned money that was spent, and wistfully put it back into its designated storage space. I don’t wear it because it’s uncomfortable — scratchy. And while it’s nice to look at, I don’t love it enough to turn it into a piece of artwork for my wall.
What is the cost of keeping these items? After all, it’s just a few square inches of drawer or shelf space. No big deal, right?
No. These things – dare I say “junk” or “stuff”? – add up to piles of clutter that emanate bad vibes. So piece by piece, I’ve learned to let things go. And it feels amazing.
What I’ve come to realize is that it doesn’t feel good to put an unloved and unused item back into its storage space. If it doesn’t fit my style or is no longer functional, then there’s no great reason to continue to allow it to take up space that could be used for an item that I’d want to use and love.
You know what feels good? Passing it on to be a blessing to someone else who would find the item useful and give it the respect it deserves.
Once I turned over the leaf from hoarding items out of guilt to moving them out of the house to be a blessing to someone else, it became addicting. One bag of donation items grew into two and then three. As it turns out, that scarf made an excellent gift-wrap option for another small boxed gift item.
But… I might need it someday!
I realize this may not be the case for everyone, but I think it’s worth mentioning:
In my 5+ year journey of decluttering, the regret of letting something go has only come up twice! Both, incidentally, were cords for electronics. The first issue was remedied by a $6 purchase on Amazon and the second by a quick text exchange: “Dad, do you have an extra Ethernet cord?” “Yes.”
The lesson I learned: it’s important for me to put labels on cords. Previously, I would let random cords pile up (albeit in neatly organized piles with twist ties to keep them looking orderly); however, since I didn’t know what purpose each cord served, the cords became clutter that I moved to the donation bin.
Otherwise, I’ve been ever so thankful to have a less cluttered, more serene home.
Some of you may be cringing: she’s been decluttering for 5+ years? Why, yes, I have. The purge is never fully complete. Sure, you might have one large pile to move out in a single go. However, the skill of discernment is constantly put to the test. I’ve had to learn to say “no” to items entering my home on an ongoing basis and it’s not easy, but necessary.
After going through a large purge and maintaining a somewhat clutter-free home, I’m no minimalist. I have one neck, but still there are more than a dozen scarves in my dresser. (I use a sock divider to organize my scarves, by the way!)
I have two feet, but more than a dozen pairs of shoes in my closet. Two wrists, but more than a dozen bracelets in my jewelry collection.
However, the items that I’ve kept are items that I use and appreciate.
Does less stuff=less stress? I think so! Has the decluttering bug bit you? What kind of impact has it had on your life?