Every Sunday my husband and I do our "Five Things To Toss" ritual. It began when we read an article on Facebook about throwing things out during Lent and we just never stopped. Before Sunday is over, we have gathered five things on our kitchen island that will either go out in the garbage or be donated the next day.
My husband is Dutch and he's a minimalist. I, on the other hand, was raised here in America — the land of over-consumption. I'm continually amazed when I walk my dog past people's houses that no one actually uses their garages for what they were intended — to park cars. Instead they use them to park junk. Lots of it.
We started de-cluttering our lives when we were planning a move from the east coast out to California. He absolutely refused to pay to move useless junk we haven't touched in years and he was totally right. As we started to purge our closets and basement of "stuff," I couldn't believe how absolutely freeing it was. Not only were we de-cluttering our house, but we were freeing our minds as well.
Think about it. Every time you open a closet or a cabinet or a drawer or your garage -- you just see mounds of stuff and the fact that it is there, in your space, falling over is stressful. Stuff you have to weed through, stress over, or move to find what you want.
A home organizer neighbor of mine tells me about all of the people who call her completely stressed out over all of the stuff they have in their homes. It's disorganized, everywhere they look, and causes them nothing but anxiety. They are overwhelmed by it, don't know how to deal with it, and waste precious brain energy fretting over it day after day.
She says when she goes into a home and works with a family on what to keep, what to donate, and what to toss, and then organizes it in such a way that it is easily accessible to them, they feel less anxiety, less stress, and are more positive about themselves and their environment.
Have you ever opened a drawer or cabinet to have stuff fall out every time you go in there? You curse and get frustrated about it over and over again, and one day you simply can't take it anymore, so you spend the 30 minutes, organize it, and then look how happy you are when you open it the next time and what you are seeking is easily within reach. It's a positive experience versus a negative one. Your mind is not fixated or frustrated over the piles of stuff and is instead free to think about something more positive, focus on doing something to move yourself forward, or just dream.
When I first started the weekly "Five Things To Toss" ritual, it was easy. A pair of worn down shoes, stained T-shirt, old fry pan, etc. — it was a no brainer to find things to part with. But as the weeks went on, the easy pickings were now gone and I had to really look to find things that I could toss.
Sure there were plenty of things — clothing, shoes, books, jewelry, etc. — that I hadn't touched in years, but that required some effort to actually focus on them and decide "would I ever use this again?" Some items I put on the island after talking myself into tossing it and then I would go back later in the day and retrieve it. Others I was just ruthless with: I put it on the island and walked away. These items have been gone for weeks or months now and I don't even miss them. I didn't even remember I had half the stuff until I thought about it and started bargaining with myself over keeping it.
The less "stuff" I have around me, the more freeing it is. I have purged. My environment is cleaner. And I'm doing good by donating stuff I no longer really need. I've opened up the brain space for better things — to think about moving myself forward, to find more joy, more gratitude, more peace every day versus cursing out that darned handbag that keeps falling off the shelf every time I open the closet.
Why do we keep beating ourselves up over stuff? Just get rid of it.