It is easy to accumulate stuff in our country. Costco, Walmart, Dollar Store, and other retailers allow people in any income bracket to fill their homes with things. And they encourage it. In a February New York Times piece, writer Pamel Druckerman states:
“Clutter is having its moment in part because we’ve accumulated a critical mass of it. The cascade began 25 years ago, when China started to export huge amounts of cheap clothes, toys and electronics. Cut-rate retailers and big-box stores encouraged us to stockpile it all.”
“The Clutter Cure’s Illusory Joy” – New York Times, February 15, 2015
Clutter makes me feel overwhelmed. I avoid free key chains or screen wipes that are handed out at public events. The only thing I collect at the State Fair are digital images on my camera. Yet I have seen people struggle to let go of free, cheap, mass-produced items. What is it about these that can be hard to let go of? When did we start believing that things deserved space in our homes merely because they ended up in our homes?
I hear clients say ‘it was a gift’, ‘it cost a lot’ or ‘I don’t want to waste it’. People seem to feel obligated to keep items that they don’t want because of a perceived value. Does this allow ‘stuff’ to control us?
Sometime while we were accumulating stuff, we started to believe that it had value, regardless of our feelings about it. Maybe it is in response to buyer’s remorse. If I get rid of something it shows that I shouldn’t have bought it in the first place. Do we remember that we can live without our stuff? If our homes were hit by tornadoes, we would survive. It would not be easy, but our stuff is not who we are.
Organization makes me feel grounded, peaceful, and able to take on new projects and work. When I feel calmer I have more patience, especially my son. I feel more free to start a creative project or take a break and just read for an hour.
I think it is important to remind ourselves that things will never be as important as who we are. Whatever you have, and wherever it came from, don’t let your things become more important than what really matters. Before bringing anything into your home, ask if it important enough to merit space in your environment.
How important does an item have to be to merit space in your home? I would set the bar pretty high. The value of you living the way you want and having the peace and calmness that you seek, should not be given away lightly.