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At a certain point in my life, I came to realize that I didn’t so much own my stuff as my stuff owned me.  First of all, the more stuff I had, the more energy and effort I put into maintaining and housing the stuff.  Second of all, the more stuff I wanted, the more energy and effort I put into obtaining the stuff, which brought me back to the first point.

In our culture, we are constantly told we must have this or that.  We are told these things are necessary.  So we spend energy, effort, time, and money obtaining, maintaining, and housing all this stuff, which erodes the energy, effort, time, and money we have for other aspects of our lives.  This stuff ends up extracting collateral cost beyond just what we paid for it.  We invest so much to get and hold on to this stuff.

Then, over time, we see how fleeting and unsatisfying getting and holding on to this stuff really is.  We conclude this stuff isn’t all that valuable after all.  We realize we’ve put in all this effort for all this stuff, without real benefit, leaving us disillusioned and dissatisfied.  So what do we tend to do?  Go buy more stuff!

What’s the answer?  Take back control from your stuff!  Have you ever watched one of those shows about hoarding on TV?  Usually, the shows involve people who have become inundated with stuff.  For hoarders, every room gets packed to the brim with things — so much so, you can hardly see the floor.  There are stacks and piles of items upon items, most of which are impossible to use, because they’re impossible to get to.  The house ceases to be a home and becomes a glorified storage unit. 

During these shows, professionals are brought in to help the person go through and sort the stuff, generally into three piles:  keep, throw, and donate.  Talk about simple:

  1. Keep the most important.
  2. Donate to someone else in need.
  3. Throw away the rest.

If you’ve ever watched one of these shows, you know this simple exercise can be excruciatingly difficult, especially for those with tendencies to hoard.  Downsizing your stuff allows you to see — and use — those items that are truly meaningful to you.  Instead of having five salad bowls, you use and enjoy the one you inherited from a beloved aunt.  Instead of gathering dust in an out-of-reach corner of a forgotten cabinet, that bowl is front and center, a beautiful reminder of her love and affection.  And those four other bowls?  They can be donated to an organization that will sell them to help the disadvantaged.  How can that not be a win-win? 

Have you ever moved from a larger home to a smaller one?  How hard was it to downsize?  We become attached to things, even things we don’t use.  I encourage you to let some of these things go, so they can find their way to someone who might truly need them.  Most important, those things will no longer be your responsibility.  You can let them go and simplify your life. 

 Dr. Gregory Jantz is the founder of The Center • A Place of HOPE and author of 35 books. Pioneering whole-person care nearly 30 years ago, Dr. Jantz has dedicated his life’s work to creating possibilities for others, and helping people change their lives for good. The Center • A Place of HOPE, located on the Puget Sound in Edmonds, Washington, creates individualized programs to treat behavioral and mental health issues, including eating disorders, addiction, depression, anxiety and others. For more information about eating disorder treatment, fill out this form or call 1-888-747-5592 to speak confidentially with a specialist today.