Most people really love their stuff, and they love acquiring more stuff. But our feelings about material things are complicated. We know what’s good for us, but we just don’t want to give up what we like. Our stuff makes us feel good.
Did you know that living simply and detaching from material things can make you happier? That said it can be hard to let go of some stuff you own. Those that horde material possessions are suffering from a lack of love, suggests one study.
“People who feel loved and accepted by others place lower monetary values on material possessions than folks who feel insecure and unloved. In other words, the folks who don’t feel valued and appreciated tend to value their stuff more,” reports Brad Tuttle of Time magazine, referencing a study, conducted by UNH psychology professor Edward Lemay and his colleagues at Yale.
“When your life is empty of human love, affection, and security, there’s a tendency to want to fill it up with some substitute—namely, stuff. And when you have little else in your life beyond that stuff, you tend to value that stuff more than someone surrounded by the truly valuable intangible stuff—namely, love.”
On that note, here are some tips on how to determine what to keep and what to let go.
1. Do a walkthough of your home
Do a walk through of your home and look for items you never use and don’t really care about. Clear out what you really don’t need in your living environment.
2. Examine why you are hanging on to something.
If there is something that you find that you just can’t get rid of, ask yourself why are you hanging on to it. Does it have residual value? If so put it up for sale and if it doesn’t sell junk it. Does it have sentimental value? Put it in the center of you living room until you can’t stand the sight of it anymore. Or put it on display. Work through any emotions it brings up.
3. Is the hobby done
Do you have old materials from a hobby you have discontinued? Look to donate these things to a club, school or neighbor that might find it interesting. There’s a “free” section of Craigslist too.
4. Are you in a career that attracts clutter?
Decorators, painters, artists, sales people and others involved in creating, buying, selling and marketing merchandise, can have a hard time detaching from material things because they are always surrounded by the latest products. Consider unloading old inventory or donating it to a junior member of your community or to a school, as appropriate.
5. When you think about your stuff or an item you want to buy, consider these parameters:
- Does it bring beauty into your life?
- Does it help with a passion or hobby?
- Does it bring family and friends together?
- Does it educate or enlighten you and others?
- Does it help someone sick?
- It is useful and necessary for everyday life?
- Is it connected to a family tradition or a reminder of the past?
It’s worth examining your motivations for holding on to possessions and buying new items. Work though anything that isn’t emotionally productive and then junk the items you can detach from.