Thursday, October 27, 2016

What I No Longer Need


I like a clean house.  Our surroundings have an impact on our brains: clear your space, clear your mind.  In a recent bid to live within my means and not in excess, I've taken to removing things — clutter, so to speak — from my surroundings.  I want to live my life with a more minimalist approach, to separate my wants from my needs.

I picked up Marie Kondo's The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up since it seemed in line with my thinking.  Mind you, I'm just barely through the first chapter, but I already love Kondo's philosophy: When you put your house in order, you put your affairs and your past in order, too.  How one tidies, or doesn't, is presented as a manifest of one's mentality and I'm inclined to agree.
 
I have always taken immense pleasure in throwing things out, imagining a clean slate, and free space.  Despite this, I am a bit of a hoarder and emotional pack rat.  I think this is due to materialism, sentimentalism, and an unwillingness to let go.  My cosmetics collection is a tactile example: I keep makeup items because they were expensive, luxury, packaged nicely, etc.  Over time, this costs more than my initial investment.  It devolves into bad spending habits and retail therapy.  You wanna know the kicker?  Makeup expires.  So I began to throw things away.  If I didn't use it, I had to lose it, no matter how luxurious or expensive it was.  I turned to my closet as well, and packed up bags of clothing that I deposited at Goodwill.  Farewell and good riddance!

At some point, my physical tidying began to translate to my personal life.  There is a great value in knowing when something is past its expiration date.  How many of us remain in unhealthy friendships and relationships because "we've known each other forever"?  Or spent time with people out of obligation, despite how emotional draining it was?  In business, pouring money into a project with no returns is termed a bad investment.  How is spending time with people who we don't feel good around any different?  Which brings me to a platform we've all used to "keep in touch" with others: Facebook.

I've kept my Facebook account deactivated for the past year except for short spurts to "catch up." Inevitably, this would devolve into gossip-fests with friends, creeping, and the comparison game.  It became a platform that nucleated negativity while draining my energy.  I never felt better after I used it.  I won't blame Facebook; I take personal responsibility for how I engaged with it.  I decided if I wasn't going to use it productively, I wasn't going to use it at all.  Last month, I permanently deleted my account and it felt freeing to do so.  All those people I wanted to keep in touch with?  Well, it's nice to have real conversations now through other means. 


Once I remove things from my life, I find that I'm not sorry to see them go.  Truth is, if I don't miss something when it's gone, did I ever need it in the first place?  I don't miss that expensive lipstick I never used.  I don't miss gossiping about people's status updates.  Decluttering my physical and mental space is helping me see what actually matters.  The money I would've wasted on makeup can be put towards debt or plane tickets to see family.  Letting go of the safety net of a quantity of people gives me energy to focus on genuine, wonderful friends who inspire me to be better.  In short, I am learning to be happier with less because what I keep with me are things of importance.

I'm not sure of what the conclusion to Kondo's decluttering method will be, but I've arrived at one on my own: When I get rid of what I no longer need, I create space for greater things.