We, as Tiny Housers/Simplistic Living Enthusiasts know what it takes to shed the extra layers of possessions that were accumulated over the years from living outside of our means. Though, there are others who find mountains to face when it comes to getting rid of their possessions – whether they literally be mountains of stuff, or figuratively, mountains of attachment that need to be overcome.
So, to facilitate the process of parting with ones belongings, I’ve compiled a list of five common-fare tips on how to get rid of your stuff , or in other words, move mountains.
Tip #1: Get Organized
You would love to downsize your belongings and clear up space, but where do you start? First off, to aid in the commencing of getting down to downsizing business, it helps to have most everything organized. No, not in the sense of keeping your soup cans’ labels facing front first on the shelf, an extra roll of TP within arms reach of the commode, or making sure Friday’s undergarments are not worn on a Wednesday.
It’s favorable to be organized in the sense that all kitchen items remain in the kitchen, bathroom to bathroom, bedroom to bedroom, ect. That way, when you are prepared to start, you can tackle one room at a time with vigilance. It will also make the space more manageable to make piles of what to keep, what to sell, what to donate and what goes into recyclable/waste.
Tip #2 Consolidate Consciously
This is one of my all time favorites in the process of downsizing. When items are consolidated, not only does it give you a fresh eye as to how much space you can clear up (which inhibits motivation to keep downsizing), it also gives you a frame of reference to some of the excess items you were holding onto.
You can start consolidating by paring down all of your bathroom items into only a few drawers, designating a few cupboards/drawers solely for your kitchen cooking ware, and strictly keeping only half of the closet, if even a full one, for harboring your most-worn apparel.
Consolidating is not about stuffing your drawers and closets with the mind-set of ‘if it cannot be seen, it does not exist’. It is about freeing up the space that is there, inside and out. So to say, the space that your eyes are not visually accustomed to on a typical, day-to-day basis.
The great thing is, once items are consolidated, at some point you begin to realize that you can let go of even more.
Tip #3 Soul Search
This is a tricky one. You may ask “How does soul searching have anything to do with getting rid of my material possessions?”
When you really start letting go of things, you will realize that there may be items you are having difficulty in parting with. This is a normal part of the process and is the opportune time to stop, reflect, and really look within yourself to start pondering what you really want out of your life.
What kind of real value have these items brought to your life? If these items were nonexistent in your life, would everything come to an end? If you had one year from this day to live, what would you want to do with that time, and do those items have any part in that equation or hold any personal value in that aspect?
Looking inside and asking yourself questions like this will help you narrow down what is truly meaningful in your life, and what is vital for maintaining it. You would be surprised that most of the time, it is never about material possessions. You may even learn a few new things about yourself in the process of letting go, which can be so revitalizing to the soul.
Tip #4 Keep it in The Family
Let’s say, you got rid of a lot of stuff. You feel great. You pondered life’s complexities, and in general, you have let go. But there are still items – little trinkets of treasures you just do not want to part with. That’s completely okay. It doesn’t hurt to keep a few valuable sentiments in your life, as long as you don’t feel suffocated. Because, that is the point of downsizing – to alleviate that uncomfortable ‘drowning’ feeling, among other things.
If there are items that you don’t really want to hold onto, but would rather like to know that they are going into good hands, then keep it in the family.
Now, when I say keep it in the family, this pertains to friends as well. Because, friends are our family in a sense now aren’t they? Give it to someone in your close, tight-knit circle that would love to be the new bearer of said item.
I call this tip a catch 22 because some of the items that you have acquired over the years, that you no longer want to hold onto, were more than likely passed down with the sense of ‘keeping it in the family’.
Tip #5 Practice Being Resourceful
Letting go and parting with possessions is a long journey to non-attachment. One that I’m still on. We always have to watch ourselves. To catch those urges of wanting to make those mindless, impulse purchases. Temptation is everywhere. You see something at a yard sale and it is only one dollar so, why not? Why not? Because that is exactly how you start back at square one with accumulation.
Since downsizing, I’ve adapted a resourceful mind-set. When it does come down to making a purchase, I ask myself these types of questions: Is this a necessity, or an item that is vital to maintaining my life? Can I use this in the event of an emergency? Is it multi-functional and will it still be useable 5, 10, even 15 years from now? If I purchase this to use now, can I re-sell it later when I no longer need it? And in that case, can I find this in good condition, pre-owned? Asking these types of questions helps keep me in the now, and has kept me on the straight and narrow – away from old, conditioned ways of thinking.
And of course, when it comes down to it, there are always the eco/wallet-friendly factors of re-using, recycling, and (as stated above) buying pre-owned. We are downsizing here people – if we are striving to live in a clutter-free household, why would we want to clutter up the number one living space to every living creature – Our Planet?
And, at the end of the day, always remember to just breathe. And look up. I cannot personally speak for anyone else, but looking up at the sky, the sun, the moon, and the clouds kinda puts a whole lot of things into perspective for me.
On a much-needed road trip in the Spring of 2012, we stopped to enjoy a few relaxing days in Pismo Beach, headed on our way back down to LA from SF.
It was the off-season, not a whole lot of people around, layers of fog accumulated densely along that tiny reserve of the California coast. The bellowing tufts of grey clouds that slowly relinquished day in and day out were heavenly.
The chilly night before the morning we left, we sat on the balcony close to midnight, three flights up, of the ocean-front hotel we were staying in, taking it all in. The crisp, salty air misting us from every direction. And in every direction was limitless ocean.
Within that tranquil moment, My babe glanced over at me, and asked “What’s going on over there?”
I turned and gazed happily at him, smiling. “Just thinkin’ ’bout the planets, man.”
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- The Art of Letting Go: 5 Simple Tips on How to Get Rid of Your Stuff - January 20, 2013