I have been spring cleaning. Yes, I know it’s still winter but considering the state of my house I’ll be lucky to get it all done before spring next year.
I recently read that 20 per cent of the things you own hold 80 per cent of the total value of those things. I had a look at the things surrounding me and realised there was a lot of truth in what I read. I decided, then and there, I only wanted to be surrounded by valuable things.
I also decided the way to achieve this was to throw 80 per cent of my house away.
Rationality and considered behaviour are clearly my strong points.
I started in the bathroom cupboard.
It’s amazing how much stuff you can actually fit in there. I didn’t want to just randomly throw things away though—I wanted to be accurate. So I counted everything, multiplied it by 0.8 and discovered I needed to get rid of 57 items.
Living alone for too long can make you do these sorts of things.
I began with what I thought I could do without. That dried up blue nail polish? Gone. That foul smelling moisturiser?
Gone. That anti-frizz serum that turned out to be quite pro-frizz?
But by the time I got to 20, it was a real stretch: I might use this one day. I like the smell of this. This one has cute packaging. I still had 37 things to go but I couldn’t bear to throw any more away.
So I changed my approach. Instead of trying to work out what I didn’t want, I began to think about what I did want. What was important? What was useful? The result surprised me. I put eight things back in the cupboard before I began having difficulty deciding whether or not a product was valuable enough to keep.
Once I had all the important things on the shelf, deciding what to do with the 29 things on the floor was easy. 20 went straight into the bin without any sense of loss. The other things, while not as important, still had enough value to hang on to. So I ended up only throwing 40 things away. But on the other hand—I ended up throwing 40 things away!
As I knelt on my bathroom floor, looking at my freshly uncluttered cupboard, I started to get excited. Imagine if I did this to every cupboard! No! To every room! No—to my whole life! Instead of focusing on the things I don’t want, what if I focused on the things I do want? And instead of cluttering up my life with unnecessary junk, why don’t I treasure the things that are important and discard the rest?
Throwing things away is a good feeling.
It creates a sense of lightness and leaves you with less ways to mess up your house.
But we do so many unnecessary things in life, too, that only leave us tired, poor and unhappy. Because of my spring cleaning-induced epiphany, I am now making a conscious effort to throw these things away, too.
Watching TV when there’s nothing on? Gone. Late fines for not returning DVDs on time? Gone. Pressing the snooze button too often, creating a stress-fueled dash to get the kids to school on time? Gone. And all without any sense of loss.
That’s the thing about unnecessary stuff–you never miss it.
So much is lost by holding on to what we don’t need, and there is so much to gain by letting it go.