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Chose a life that is not in having, but in living

Updated: Jan 19, 2021

As most of us are spending a lot more time in our own homes, some of us may have noticed how cluttered our homes have become. Clutter isn’t just physical stuff, clutter represents old ideas, toxic relationships and bad habits that do not support our better self. Clearing out the clutter can help clear our minds, make us feel more organised and gives us a sense of control in these uncertain and unprecedented times.

But why do we collect so much physical stuff? When we feel an emotional emptiness, we can crave stimuli and seek to fulfil this craving with purchases. It’s easy to become convinced that fulfilling this urge will make us happier - “I’ll be happier once I get these new shoes, I’ll feel prettier once I get that new dress, I’ll feel better once I get that new phone”. However, that pleasure is short-lived and can often be replaced with shame, then the cycle starts again.

Another reason we may generate clutter is that we are clinging to the past. Objects from our past may remind us of happier times, or loved ones. Keepsakes can be important but it is vital not to get overly sentimental and attached to items that may be cluttering our living space. It’s hard to let go of the past, but we need to remember that there are plenty more great memories to be made. We’re never stuck in the past, we can just be committed to particular behaviours that may have helped in the past, but now these behaviours have become more damaging than helpful. It’s time for a change.

None of this means you should suddenly order a skip and throw everything away. Be selective about what objects you keep and don’t keep. There are plenty of ways we can discard of unwanted possessions that don’t include putting things in the bin such as giving to charity, giving to a friend or even selling. As you continue on your journey and grow as a person, you will find you are never truly done decluttering. It is an ongoing process.

Before you start decluttering, there are a few questions to ask ourselves to help us determine whether or not it is a good decision to let an item go. To begin with, organise your possessions into ‘useful’, ‘sentimental’, ‘decoration’, ‘projects’ and ‘clothing’ and ask yourself these questions:

Useful items:

- Does this item hold great benefit to my life on a daily/weekly basis?

- Do I have another item that would do the same job as this?


- Does this item symbolise a great experience or relationship to me that has benefited me greatly?

- Does this item give me a feeling joy and love when I see it?


- Does the item give me great joy when I see it?


- Do I enjoy the time spent on this project and am I excited to continue working on it?

- Not only does the project make me happy, but does the project provide great educational and self-growth opportunities?


- Do I feel like the best version of me when I wear this?

- If I could, would I re-purchase this item today even if it as 2x the price?

Some items will be easier to let go of than others, and some items will awaken feelings of guilt and fear by the thought of losing it. Remember, that decluttering is an ongoing process and you do not need to let everything go all at once.

Furthermore, gifting is inevitable especially around Christmas which can contribute to our mountain of clutter. Many presents from over the years may end up hidden under the bed or covered in dust, it is time for a change. To help reduce clutter, try suggesting to loved ones that you prefer an experience gift such as an afternoon tea voucher or experience day that will introduce you to new meaningful experiences. Chose a life that is not in having, but in living.

By Rachel at Cheswold Park Hospital

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