Forcing myself to go through my entire apartment piece by piece this year and closely examine each of our possessions has brought me to this truth (among others):
Our ability to simplify and minimize and rid ourselves of the surplus in our lives is like a muscle—constantly exercise it, and it grows stronger, but if you never do it, well…
You get the idea.
It used to be that I went through my closet (since that was about the only space I ever routinely “de-cluttered”) about once a year (or whenever I could no longer stuff my latest purchase into it), and generally I could only bear to part with a few items, which usually consisted of things that no longer fit or that were obviously out of style.
Other than that though, I had a difficult time letting go—I became a mastermind at coming up with reasons to hang onto that turtleneck I hadn’t worn in two years because I got compliments every time I wore it (ignoring the fact that I almost never put it on because I hate the feeling of tight fabric on my neck) or rationalizing those electronic cords that were mysterious in their purpose and that lay, tangled and unused, in a box shoved into the farthest corner of the closet, reasoning that they “might come in handy someday.”
However, now, almost 8 months into my household overhaul, I am reaching feats I never thought possible—I am no longer looking for excuses to keep everything I’ve ever owned, and I’m slowly becoming addicted to the unique rush that only comes from seeing bare shelves, surfaces, and floors appear.
I’ve also learned to ask questions (and honestly answer them) when my habitual self tries to start up its rationalizations, like:
Can I remember the last time I used, wore, or truly enjoyed this?
Am I keeping it only out of guilt or fear?
Is the item in its current condition bringing me joy and satisfaction?
Would I notice if it were to suddenly disappear?
If I were to list the hundred most important things to me, would it come even close to making the list?
Each day, I find I am more and more capable of letting go, and you know what?
I’m discovering that that brings a joy and satisfaction that nothing material ever could.
What are your secrets for simplifying your life? What questions do you ask yourself when you start internally debating over keeping an item?