When I was younger, I was a collector of things. Trinkets, CDs, monkeys, DVDs, purses, books upon books upon books.
In addition to being a collector, I always had a hard time letting go of things. But what if I need this CD again, the one I haven’t listened to in ten years? But what if this has some sentimental value attached to it that I might remember about later, after I throw it out? I might have a use for this, I might have a use for that!
So my collections grew.
Now that I’m older, I’m coming to the realization that it isn’t STUFF that makes me happy. I don’t do a lot of shopping anymore unless it’s for things I need.
And I’m learning to let go.
When Jerry and I moved into our house in 2014, all of my things came with me. It was a slow move, bringing a few boxes here and a few boxes there over from my parent’s house over time. Most of the boxes of my things landed in my storage room downstairs, and there they sat… and sat…. and sat. My mind hadn’t shifted yet from that collector mindset and it’s a shame; the move would have taken a lot less time and energy if it had.
My mind has made a lot shifts in the nearly two years since I became a mother because, let’s face it, becoming a mother changes you to the core. It flips on switches that had previously been off, and flips off switches that had previously been on. It feels like your brain becomes completely rewired as priorities shift and change and move about. Something jiggled loose in my brain, something that told me that I didn’t need to hang onto things that weren’t making me happy, weren’t serving a purpose… and so the purging began.
Two months ago, I donated two big garbage bags full of clothes, a box of kitchen ware, and a box of books to the Goodwill. I felt a huge weight lifted off my shoulders… but I knew I could do more.
Today, I donated five big bags full of clothes and three boxes full of books, CDs, and other random things that I never really needed. A HUGER weight was lifted off my shoulders.
In addition to the mountains of things I’ve donated, I’ve been throwing junk away left and right. My load feels lighter both physically and mentally.
The funny thing is, after unloading a total of SEVEN bags of clothes… I’ve NEVER felt like I had more things to wear than I do now! Why? My closet and dressers (now down to ONE dresser) were previously full of clothes I wasn’t even wearing. Things that were old, ugly, unflattering, or just plain didn’t fit were stuffed into drawers. I’d pick something up, decide I didn’t want to wear it, then put it back. Now, I’ve pared down my wardrobe to ONLY things that I like, wear, and find flattering. Now, when I open my drawers, I know I can pick anything up and have it be something I like. I don’t have to dig through piles of junk to find one good thing anymore, so it truly feels like I have more now because only the good stuff remains.
I am certainly not a minimalist… at least not yet, anyway, and I have a lot more work to do, but I’m getting there little by little. Instead of feeling dread and anxiety like I used to when I got rid of things, I only feel happiness and relief.
I very recently started reading my first “minimalist” type book, The More of Less by Joshua Becker. Within the first few pages, I have already learned an important lesson: you don’t have to get rid of all of your belongings. You can keep things that make you happy. You just have to get rid of things that don’t make you happy. This lesson made me feel better about the large number of books and decorations that I still have. Those are things that I like and want to surround myself with. It’s the other stuff that doesn’t bring me joy — that’s the stuff I’ve been getting rid of.
I am realizing that I no longer need to keep things that I don’t use or that don’t make me happy. Having less really does feel like having more. When the only things you have are things that you use and like, when you surround yourself only with things that make you happy, your life feels more abundant and full.