Why Does Getting Rid of Stuff Feel So Good?

Why Does Getting Rid of Stuff Feel So Good?

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Shifrah Combiths
Sep 10, 2015

Many of us strive for a more simplified life, in which what surrounds us are things we either truly love or truly need, preferably both. To arrive at — and to maintain — such a lifestyle, we have to get rid of things, whether it's in one fell swoop or in small doses. While it feels like a big mountain to climb, getting rid of things ultimately feels sooo good. Here's why.

Physical space and mental space go hand-in-hand. Clutter is visual noise, and the disarray creeps into our mental faculties as well (for some of us more than others). So it stands to reason that clearing out our physical spaces, making room for air and light and growth, would be mirrored in our psyches as well. Just think how much better you work when your desk is cleaned off — now extend that to your life.

Separating from the past can heal us. We hang onto so many things because of the memories tied to them. When we de-clutter, we have the opportunity to interact not only with our physical possessions, but with the memories and feelings they trigger. This can be negative but cathartic, as when we let go of things we've held onto out of fear of letting go or of not being in control. The act of getting rid of these things can be painful but is nevertheless triumphant, inspiring a feeling of this has no hold on me!! as things are discarded. I think watching this interplay between our things and our personal histories is what had me hooked on Hoarders for a time.

Making decisions makes us strong. When we make a decision about something, even something as small as whether to keep those curtain rods, we do gain some control, and the feeling is addicting and self-perpetuating. If you can donate years' upon years' worth of children's clothes, for instance, you're not only making room mentally and physically. You're also empowered to tackle that next thing that's been hanging over you or crowding your consciousness: exercising, asking your boss for a raise, copying your pictures off your phone, whatever.

You have less stuff to deal with. This is the most obvious reward of getting rid of stuff, and most definitely not the smallest. Each thing that goes out your door is one less thing you have to find a place for, organize again and again, or clean. That, my friends, is freedom and boy does it feel good!

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