The Most Important Things In Life Aren't Things
Recently I launched a coaching program designed to serve people who wanted to clear the physical, spiritual, and emotional clutter from their lives. It was wildly successful, which is always fun. Because people loved it, I have made it possible for people to continue to participate. One of the areas that resonated the most for people is their relationship to their physical stuff. We explored several aspects of our habits regarding buying, keeping, storing, and releasing items in our life.
What purpose do the things in your life serve? Do you really need 30 pair of shoes? How about that dress you bought because it was on sale, that’s been hanging out in your closet for a few years - tags still attached? Why do we buy more than we need, and why do we keep it?
For some, it’s merely a lack of attention to keeping life clutter-free. For others, it’s a compulsion. And sometimes we’re looking to fill a void in our life, mistakenly believing that we can fill that void with stuff.
The truth is, it doesn’t work. And we are so much more than the stuff we own.
Many people purged years worth of items in their possession during our 30 day program. The comments from people looked something like this:
“...even though I'm not clutter clearing daily, I'm itching on the inside to clear stuff out of the house thanks to this course. Exciting. Cleared over 150 emails yesterday.”
“One of the things that has been holding me back is I often feel unproductive and in a large way that is due to my disorganization. I always thought it was "organized chaos" but it is just plain chaos. I have a long way to go but I have been making big strides on cleaning out my work space. I'm making strides on cleaning out the "old" and more importantly "unnecessary" clutter in my home.”
“So, I have been purging all week. I cleaned out my closet and while at first, it was a daunting task, it became easier as I went along. I have six boxes full of clothes (some with tags still on them) to give away. I have two coworkers that have offered to come get them! I discovered through this journey that I am pretty good at purging, and with the exception of a few odds and ends, I only keep what I truly love or that has meaning to me. Some people may look at this as insensitive, but there are enough things in my home that tell a story without being cluttered. I do however, have a ton of boxes (all neatly packed and identified), that belong to my five grown children. I put their old school projects, pictures and awards away for them. Someday, I hope they move these boxes from my house to theirs!”
“Today was a day of purging my closet again!! I thought I had purged enough the first time but when we were encouraged to dig deeper I went back in and came out with 5 more bags if stuff. So I needed the deep clean apparently.”
“Cleaned the bedroom out and it is so lovely and spacious. Purged more old clothes. Got rid of some items I like but don't need. Sorted through my jewelry. Created a treasure box for the stuff my grandchildren (to be) might love searching though. Sorted out a ton of paperwork. Wrote emails and answered letters I've been putting off.”
“Still working through a pile in my inbox but new system is for every time I'm in there I commit to sorting at least ten of the old ones. Getting through them slowly.”
“As a business traveler, I knew it would be a challenge keeping up with this challenge. But today I made great strides cleaning out my closet and office. And even more importantly, got all of the stuff out of the house. It amazes me how many duplicates of things I have simply because I fly in and out of here like a whirlwind, often forgetting things. Today was a series of reminders that I need to slow down. I hear that all the time from my family and friends, but today is the first time I've heard it from my closet. Wonder when I will listen?”
“I feel like I am reverse nesting! I have big piles of stuff that I'm going to let my daughters go through. Then, off to Goodwill!! I love getting rid of stuff. I still have more than enough!”
“I'm going to purge the super skinny clothes that mock me every day! And then I'm going down to my home gym and show them exactly who's in charge!”
“It's a small thing, but it made me think. After wrestling with the idea of giving away the custom tailored wool suit from my honeymoon 20+ years ago and finally deciding that I'll never fit it again, and should share it with some slimmer person, I got it out and discovered I'd incompletely protected it from moths, and it's got tell-tale bites in several places. A reminder that I should have made this decision years ago, and a reminder to go through my more recent stuff. What can I give away now, while it's got more potential?”
“Just made a friend very happy when I gave her my sisters jewelry. Just the look on her face when I said "take what you want, no charge" let me know I did the right thing. Now off to Salvation Army with 14 prom dresses. I love this weeks progress.”
While working inside this 30 day program with some of the most amazing people, I learned how common it is for us to collect and keep physical stuff we no longer need. The comments above illustrate how liberating it is for us to take a look at what we’re holding onto, and release it.
The most important things in life - aren’t things at all. I’m remembering that the next time I get the urge to buy something.