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Giving It All Away

Updated: 4 days ago

Most of us have unnecessary things in our lives. And by things, I’m speaking of everything ranging from physical objects to possessions, keepsakes, clothes… all the way to mental clutter (presented as anxiety, stress, doubt). And while we may recognize that “things are starting to pile up,” in every sense of the word, how do we prevent the situation from happening again? If spring cleaning works so well, why are people doing it every year? It’s not all that hard to get rid of “junk”... the things we’ve somehow accumulated but really won’t miss all that much. However, what about the things you “can’t live without?” From family heirlooms to large appliances, why are some items considered expendable and others replaceable, and... dig a little deeper to imagine what would it look like to move forward without those sentimental and emotional attachments. Believe it or not.. giving it all away really is a solid option.

Admittedly, I was a skeptic the first time Jenna showed me “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo. I understood and appreciated Marie Kondo’s methods as she applies them to organizing and de-cluttering, although (at the time) I was not fully on board with the concept of objects “sparking joy” in one’s life. My understanding at that point in time was that objects were simply objects, and there was no tangible connection between them and one’s emotional state. Over time, I began to understand and identify the connection more clearly and my skepticism began to fade. You may have a favorite t-shirt from high school or college that reminds you of back in the day, or maybe you have a storage unit for the ‘extra stuff.’ Regardless of what we have and how we connect with it, there is power in the objects we possess and each time we interact with them, we stifle our personal growth. Repeating patterns that bring us joy may be comforting, however, this comfort will keep you right where you are.

“The image of where you are going has to be more dominant than the image of where you are.”

-Esther Hicks

So how does one begin ridding their lives of excessive baggage? This is the easy part: Don’t overthink it. When you’re sorting through your belongings and deciding what “goes” and what “stays,” simply pick it up, try it on, start it up… whatever the case may be… to determine whether it truly “sparks joy.” There are hundreds of items that we’ve attached ourselves to based on a story, or a feeling it once elicited. Tip: DO NOT keep the things based exclusively on past beliefs and feelings. If you have an article of clothing you haven’t worn in 3 years because it reminds you of a happy moment once long ago, simply let it go (donate, sell) and move forward knowing that a whole new set of happy moments is ahead of you. And just because you got rid of something with sentimental value or emotional attachment DOES NOT mean you are abandoning all memory of that place and time; your brain subconsciously remembers everything in your life. Rather, by freeing yourself of excessive emotional connections to the past, you allow yourself to experience the world with new perspective, and get to experience actual growth.

Two years ago, my family and I sold our home in Texas and arrived in Costa Rica accompanied by a 40’ shipping container encasing all our earthly possessions (furniture, beds, TVs, clothing, appliances, vehicle) safely inside. Since that time, everything we brought with us has been either donated or sold, with the exception of the items that can fit in our Toyota FJ. As it stands, our family of five can fit all our possessions (clothes, toys, bicycle, dishware) into one single carload. For our family and our lifestyle, this is the situation we crafted using our personal preferences and experiences over time. Which brings us to our final point: Priorities.

Although most people have acknowledged the concept, few have actually acted upon the fact that we get to decide how we live. This includes our environment, diet, neighbors (or lack thereof), location, and a number of other factors. At the end of the day, we get to decide where we live and how we live. I would never presume to tell someone else how to live their life, or that my way of life would work for them. It wouldn’t, and I wouldn’t expect it to. Rather, this article is meant to highlight the advantages of keeping only those things in your life that bring you happiness. If something does not make you happy, or prevents you from moving forward into a new state of happiness, let it go. And do it regularly. Go through your entire closet twice or three times a year, and give away things you once considered irreplaceable. You will notice, instead of sadness, a state of optimism and readiness to move forward… this time with a much lighter load.

“Life is a balance between holding on and letting go.”


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