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The Joy of Simplifying: Letting Go of Stuff

The image shows a collection of various vintage and miscellaneous items displayed on a table. Among the items are toy cars, including a prominent pink convertible, old clocks, a box of watch parts, electrical plugs and cables, a remote control, a belt, and other assorted gadgets and tools. There is also a sign with the word "DESCHIS," which means "open" in Romanian. The items appear to be part of a flea market or garage sale setup.
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Simplicity will set you free. Okay, that’s maybe a bit of a stretch. But streamlining your possessions will make your life easier and your emotions calmer.

I found this out myself when I was forced to make some tough choices about the things that I owned and felt were important. Last year, I started a professional project in the Caribbean which required relocating. I had a 2,500 square-foot townhome filled with everything that I had collected over my 45 years of life. Moving away from the country however, made me stop to think about what I would take, what I would save, and what I would give away.

I had to think through those very critical things which I could afford to take and ship internationally. I also had to consider the things that were important enough to store which I did in my parents attic knowing that arrangement would be temporary.

Those were difficult decisions to make. Did I need my books? Well, some of them I did. And some of them were worth the shipping costs. Some things, with sentimental value, I was able to store.

But for those things that I could not justify the cost of shipping or the cost of storing, I simply had to give away. And those were difficult decisions to make at first. Should I give away something that my mother had given me as a graduation gift 25 years earlier? Were the photos of my youth worth saving?

In the end, most of the things that I’d collected over all those decades would have to go. And that was a tough realization to come to.

Or so I thought. As I was moving out, I first put the coffee maker that I would no longer need in the corner of the living room. Shortly after, I put the extra steak knives that I never used in the same corner. Later, I found a several blankets, office supplies, baseball caps, electronics, and power tools I never used. They all ended up in the corner whose contents grew rapidly.

That’s when I realized how little I actually needed. And that realization was profoundly positive. After having moved all that stuff around for all those years, not having to worry about it really reduced my need to worry about it.

This year, Jenny’s annual mantra (or intention) is “less”. I totally get it. Not thinking about, worrying about, and moving around, all of that stuff really adds to my happiness. It gives me more time to think about what really matters. More time to do the things that are important.

This past weekend I picked up the last two boxes from my parents attic. It felt so wonderful to move the remainder of my items into my new permanent home. Part of what felt so good was the fact that there wasn’t much to move – a few bankers boxes of cookbooks and old photos.

Jenny was right, less really is more. And when the stuff you do save is the stuff that really matters, that is the stuff worth saving.

joy of simplifying letting go of stuff


  1. It definitely feels good to de-clutter and get rid of things.  Even better when you can sell some of the stuff to pay off debt, invest, or save towards one of your goals.  I’m on the track of buying less so that I can accelerate the date upon which I can retire early.

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