One step at a time.
This isn’t a piece of advice that was given to me specifically, but was provided on the Internet for the general population. The message stated: don’t get too caught up with material things.
Yesterday, I spent almost the whole day sorting through all my clothes. Not just sorting, but discarding. I gathered a huge bag of clothes that no longer fit me, that I don’t like anymore, or that I no longer wear. When I accumulated all of my clothing in one huge pile, I clearly saw how ridiculous was the amount of clothing I possessed, more than half of which I didn’t even wear (or touch) on a regular basis. The amount of clothing many people possess is simply excessive.
Our society has taught us to believe that the more we have, the better. However, all of this clothing I had did not make me any happier. It did not make me a better person. In fact, it was almost stifling to live with so much clutter. I’m sure there are more extreme cases, but I felt frustrated every time I had to “find” more space to put away my clothes.
I finally became so fed up with the situation I decided to make a change. For good. I examined each piece of clothing and tried to keep only the items I truly needed or cherished. The hardest part was when it came to sentimental items or gifts from family and friends. I ended up keeping a lot of those because I would feel bad giving something away that someone really took the time to pick out for me as a present.
I think one of the reasons we can become so caught up with owning more and more is that we constantly compare ourselves to others. We crave the acceptance. We enjoy the compliments. But if we start to think deeper about why we buy and own certain things, oftentimes it’s superficial. We tend to buy a piece of clothing because it looks good, but if we let our happiness depend on tangible objects, our joy can be taken away just as easily as it came.
Imagine all of your clothes suddenly got stolen from you. Would your happiness be completely gone? Sure, it wouldn’t be a pleasant situation, but would your mind keep dwelling on the $300 pair of jeans you bought last week and the massive amount of clothes you had? Instead of becoming attached to material goods and things that can be taken away from us, we should spend more of our energy on what really matters. That means the people we care about, the relationships we share, and even inspiring other people to be better. Those are the things that we truly own and that cannot be taken away from us.
This reminds me of the lyrics in one of my favorite songs, Whitney Houston’s “Greatest Love of All“: “No matter what they take from me, they can’t take away my dignity.”
And as Art Buchwald once stated, “The best things in life aren’t things.”
Question: What do you find most challenging about cleaning up and decluttering?