It could be a pair of socks with holes in; some clothes that still don’t fit; that old faded mug with the chip in it; or the unwanted (guilt-laden) gift. Everything and anything that hasn‘t been used in the last twelve months, consider discarding.
Minimalism is in the news a good deal at the moment. Getting rid of non-essential ‘stuff’ and freeing ourselves from the trappings of consumer culture. But it’s not just about de-cluttering. “Minimalists don’t focus on having less, less, less; rather, we focus on making room for more: more time, more passion, more experiences, more growth, more contribution, more contentment. More freedom. Clearing the clutter from life’s path helps us make that room,” say minimalists, Ryan Nicodemus and Joshua Fields Millburn.
“If it doesn’t bring you joy, or have a vital use you’d be better off without it.” That was my motto a couple years back as I decided to take six months out and re-boot my life. I’d guessed I needed some type of emotional clear-out (whatever that may be) but unsure how to begin, and always being one who liked a tidy house, I thought well start off with something practical, have a mini de-clutter. Three months later every drawer, every button box (well I had three!) every nook and every cranny of my home had been sorted, piled and where appropriate discarded. I would sometimes stare at an object and see how I felt. If it made me sad (even if I couldn’t pinpoint why) it went. Over those twelve weeks, I got rid of over a third of my belongings, without even realising it… and wow did it feel good: it was a truly cathartic experience! It’s hard to explain, but for me, this physical clear-out really did make space for positive things to come.
Research suggests too that you are more likely to get enduring happiness from experiences rather than possessions. “When it comes to spending disposable income, experiential purchases tend to make people happier than material purchases”, say Carter & Gilovich. Although you may get that initial burst of excitement from your new shiny tablet, gratification will wane over time. Whereas studies suggest the converse with experiences: satisfaction increases with time. So if you are pondering a shopping spree or upgrading to that new mobile phone – think again! Maybe a gallery or a weekend away would be a better choice.
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