Free yourself from clutter

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Life Moments column
By Christine Bryant

Earlier this summer, we held a yard sale, and boy, did it feel good to get rid of stuff.

A yard sale is no small task. It takes several hours of cleaning house, adding prices and sitting on your porch all day hoping someone will find value in the items you no longer want or need.

By the end of the day, we only made a little over a $100 at the most, and then used that money to pay someone to remove an overgrown bush in the backyard and haul away some other items.

It was by no means a money maker, but the feeling of having less clutter in my home was priceless.

Lately, I’ve been fascinated with this duo called “The Minimalists.” I first watched their documentary on Netflix, called “Minimalism,” though the concept of minimalism is not new to me.

I’ve watched the opposite of it for some time, often catching those hoarding shows that chronicle the lives of people whose “collections” have gotten out of hand – to the point of it becoming mentally and emotionally debilitating.

I am no hoarder, but I do have emotional attachments to certain things.

Yet lately, I’ve been asking myself, “If I’m so attached to something, why is it stuffed away in a box in the back of a closet?”

Watching the documentary was an eye-opening experience for me, allowing me to ask myself if I would be better off in my life with fewer things rather than more.

I don’t plan to become a minimalist, but then again, that’s not necessarily the idea behind the film. Sure, there are people who really just have a few pieces of clothing, a couch and table, and that’s about it.

What I’ve learned, however, is minimalism is subjective for each of us. What makes you happy is going to be different than what makes me happy. What’s important is for us to embrace what makes us happy and not get lost in the idea that the actual act of having possessions is a path to happiness.

There’s nothing wrong with consuming with purpose, the documentary points out. However, over-consuming for the purpose of finding happiness – a happiness that tends to remain elusive when doing this – is pointless and even harmful.

It can be a little overwhelming to think about, but when you step back, it makes sense. Do I really need 40 glasses in my cupboard, 30 pairs of socks or eight jackets? Do I really need the latest gadget or the 10 vases that are under my kitchen sink?

It seems so miniscule, but the act of cleaning out my kitchen cupboards to make room for dishes coming out of the dishwasher so I don’t need to double stack glasses was incredible fulfilling.

Minimizing my clothing has allowed me to spend just a little less time doing laundry and more time doing the things I enjoy, like reading or playing with the kids.

And the thought of giving these items to someone who might actually need them adds just a little meaning to my day.

If you haven’t caught the documentary, it certainly will make you think about what we deem important these days. If nothing else, it might help you finally find that willpower to go through your closets and cupboards, and who doesn’t need that little extra push?

Christine Bryant is a Messenger staff writer and columnist.

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