Emily is back for another great guest post! Today, she’s talking about one of my all-time favorite things: DECLUTTERING!
Depending on your lot in life, ownership of property can be blessing or a curse.
Being a homeowner and adding to that home’s value through improvements and new furnishings can be a boost to your confidence and self-worth.
Unfortunately, your children and grandchildren may see your prized home furnishings as nothing but a bother to unload. While previous generations invested in accoutrements that added value, the perceived value of things like fine china or an oak dining room set has declined.
It is not a hard guess that this trend will continue in the future. George Carlin used to joke that a house is nothing more than a giant box you use to “store all of your stuff.” In that routine, Carlin imagines staying at another person’s residence overnight and noticing one room whose contents and possessions have not changed in the eleven years since its resident passed away.
Buddhism takes a negative stance on the accumulation of, and attachment to, material possessions. It is important to clarify that Buddhist philosophy does not see material possessions as inherently evil, so much as it sees them as impediments and distractions on the way to reaching enlightenment. While moving beyond concerns of the material world is an admirable goal, Buddhists also understand that not everyone is interested in reaching enlightenment.
Carlin’s mention about the unchanged room is an excellent example of how someone who holds onto everything can transition into a hoarder whom is unable to let go of even the smallest, most insignificant of things. Indeed, a good number of hoarders started out wanting to hold onto one or two things that may have little-to-no inherent value but have a great deal of sentimental value.
Maybe you know someone who held onto a trinket gifted to them by a close friend, like a collectible glass or an out-of-state license plate. Then some event causes the close friend to go away, such as death or moving out of the country; the close friend, his spouse or some of his family members wisely decide to gift her unwanted and unneeded possessions to friends and family, possibly in honor of the friend’s last will and testament.
After his friends and family are properly honored, the friend may hold a yard sale or an auction to simultaneous earn money and jettisoning himself of everything else that was not gifted off. The hoarder-to-be sees this as her chance to preserve as much of her friend’s legacy as possible and will go to great lengths acquire his things.
Because her covetous actions are guided more by the impulse of emotion than well-reasoned logistics, the hoarder has fallen into one of the most common ways for a person’s house to become excessively clustered with stuff-owning more things than the home can allow.
A hoarder’s house is not so much a residence as it is an amorphous shrine to materialism and misplaced value; the possessions within the house become the number one concern over livability, ease of movement or, in some cases, even sanitation. While the speed with which the hoarder adds to her collection is somewhat dependent upon her particular fascinations, it can become an obvious problem for anyone except the hoarder, who simply adjusts their lifestyle to accommodate the increasing amounts of room her horde takes up.
It is for situations like this that the concerned friends and family members of a hoarder should strongly look into contracting a professional cleaning service to either purge the horde or at least reduce it to a manageable size. You might also considering getting a counselor for the hoarder in order to understand the reasoning behind her unhealthy compulsions.
When you inherit things, ask yourself:
How often will I use this?
Is this something I’ll just put in storage?
Do I already have several things like this? Why do I need more?
Engage in seasonal purges and liquidation. Everyone has a few items they set aside for a rainy day that never comes (a shame, since the water would wash away the dust collecting on such things).
Anything that remains untouched for years should be put up for a yard sale or donated!
When “saving” things for family, ask yourself:
Would that person actually USE it?
Does that person have ROOM for it?
Would that person VALUE as much or more than you do?
What are some of your favorite things to remember about acquiring more “stuff”? What tips do you have for decluttering (and doing it ruthlessly)?!
Emily Kil is a professional blogger that writes about small business, family, and digital marketing. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, son and two dogs.