photo credit: Love via photopin (license)

photo credit: Love via photopin (license)

As a kid, I never had much in the way of material possessions. So I treasured each new acquisition, whether it was something I bought or something that was given to me. And I saved everything because it was MY stuff.

Try as I might, I just couldn’t bring myself to throw away anything, especially something that was still perfectly good, like the beautiful white linen material I once bought to make a dress. I got as far as cutting out the pattern but then set it aside when I messed up by accidentally cutting a notch. I had every intention of figuring out how to correct my mistake and finishing that project someday. Finally, ten years and three moves later, I scrapped it. And you know what? It was a relief to be rid of it.

What I have discovered is that it takes a certain amount of courage to let go of the bits and pieces of our lives that no longer serve us. Every time I looked at that unfinished dress, it was a reminder of one more thing I needed to do. Even after I put it away in my closet, the feeling of unfinished business would wash over me whenever I happened to catch a glimpse of the bag it was stored in.

You might get that same feeling when you look at the piles of stuff on your dining room table, the mounds of clothing on your bedroom floor, or the helter-skelter state of your basement or garage. It’s a feeling that leaves you physically tired, emotionally drained, and in a never-ending state of stress.

Imagine for a moment what it would be like to have no clutter in your home. Nothing to step over or push aside. No mess. No chaos. Just beautiful, peaceful, serene order all around you. How would you feel then?

The difference between clutter and order, chaos and peace is a choice. A 19th-century philosopher by the name of Jeremy Bentham suggested that the way to make either/or decisions is to weigh the pain against the pleasure.ย When you weigh the pain of letting go of something against the pleasure of being free of the negativity around it, the choice becomes clear.

I’m not suggesting that you get rid of everything you own – just start by removing the stuff that is keeping you from having the life you want to live. Things you regret paying too much for. Things you never wanted but were gifted or inherited. Things that define who you once were, not who you are today.

Next time you decide to take a run at decluttering your home, make a choice to free yourself from the things that are holding you hostage. Ask yourself: Which do I value more – my clutter or my life? If you can bring yourself to let go of the things you no longer love or use, you will gain more time and energy for living, loving, and celebrating life.