Most of us spend our lives growing and accumulating belongings, we start out with an apartment, then a small house. As our families grow and we experience more success, we acquire bigger homes. As time passes, we continue to collect possessions. In fact, owning a big home with many possessions is how most of us define success. But sometimes, in our quest for a sense of achievement, we actually end up with more possessions than we really need or use. If this is you, it may be time to take inventory of your home and its contents, and decide if your belongings are serving you, or just weighing you down.
I often work with older adults who have lived in their homes for 30+ years, and have reached a stage in their lives, where they own more than they can manage. They are in the process of moving to smaller homes and have collected so much stuff throughout the years that the task of dealing with it all is overwhelming. Unfortunately, this process of “downsizing” into a smaller home with less stuff is often viewed in a negative light. Many individuals feel that they have spent their whole lives working to acquire what they own, and now they have to let it go. For this reason, many put off the letting go process for too long, dreading the day it has to be done.
What most individuals with this kind of mindset do not realize, is that letting go of what no longer serves our needs or fits our lifestyle can actually add to the quality of our lives. There is responsibility that goes along with managing our home and of all its contents. Letting go of that responsibility, can simplify our lives and can be liberating and inspiring. Moving from a large high maintenance home to a smaller one that better fits our present needs, can feel like lifting a large weight off of our shoulders.
So why do most of us avoid doing it? Part of the reason is that our natural inclination is to seek more, whether that is in the form of more success, or more material belongings. But that mentality does not always serve us well. If we become mindful of this, and periodically take the time to assess and reduce our belongings throughout our lives, we will avoid ever having to tackle an insurmountable, dreaded “downsizing” job in the future. Another reason that many of us are unable to let go of what we no longer use is that we let our busy schedules take priority and we never get around to getting the job done. Meanwhile, the piles grow ever so large, taking over storage areas, closets and even active living areas. I have worked with numerous individuals whose home environments have become so disorderly and chaotic that they don’t even want to spend time at home, because no peace can be found there.
Whether we are age 25, or 75, it’s never too early to start to simplify our homes and our belongings. Examine the contents of your home, and be willing to let go of everything that is not functional or does not inspire you. Evaluate the way your home feels; is there plenty of open space for energy to flow within your home? Or have its rooms become suffocating, with too much furniture and other items? Do you feel peaceful when you are at home? Do you spend more time than you would like maintaining and cleaning your big home and yard? How would it feel to be surrounded only by the things that you cherish and use and nothing more?
For those of us struggling with clutter, I suggest reading a book on Minimalism like Joshua Becker’s, “The More Of Less.” You don’t have to become a Minimalist to acquire an appreciation for living more simply. Learning to understand the concept of Minimalism can help us develop a more balanced attitude towards what we own, and help us to gain awareness of the unconscious drive to seek more.
The added bonus to switching our mindsets from “What more do I need?” to “What don’t I need any more?” is that many who develop this way of thinking and living, find themselves so motivated that they find that they are able to let go of clutter that complicates other parts of their lives as well. They learn to simplify their schedules and lifestyles and to let go of unwanted obligations that cause unnecessary stress.
These days, we live in a world of... do more, have more, be more, and we never stop running. This mentality leaves us feeling perpetually overwhelmed, but we don’t have to live this way. We can learn to be satisfied with a simpler life, and come to cherish this carefree, less burdensome way of living.
Laura is the Owner of Clean & Clutter Free, professional organizing services.