As I shared last month, I have been working through and discarding a lot of my physical clutter with the help of the “KonMari” method from Marie Kondo’s book: “The life-changing magic of tidying up.”. (See: Clear Your Clutter, Clear Your Mind.) After going through clothes, books and magazines, I am now at the tail end of working through the third category, which is paper. And yes, I have (or rather had) a lot of paper to go through.
During the discarding process so far, I noticed that there are some items that are hard to let go of. Even though Marie’s method of holding each item and asking: “Does this spark joy?” really helps, for some items it is still hard to let go for various reasons. I might feel that I haven’t really used it much so I would feel guilty and don’t want to “waste” it, I think that I might need it at some point, there are memories associated with it, etc.
Marie’s suggestion is to consider why we have that item in the first place and reassess the role it plays in our life. If we bought something because we thought it looked great in the store, but later found it didn’t look so good on us after all, then it has fulfilled the role of giving us excitement when we bought it and also taught us what doesn’t really suit us. So the item has already completed its function in our life and we can acknowledge its contribution, thank it for what it gave us, and let go of it. And by letting go of items that have outlived their purpose, we can truly focus on and cherish the things that are important to us.
I feel that this is so true of not only things, but also people. Even though some people in our lives are toxic, we get used to having them around and hold on to them, reluctant to let them go. Sometimes the person is no longer physically in our life, but we still have so much resentment against them, that they are very much present mentally.
All these people played a role in our life, but what is their role now? Do they bring us joy? If they do, then that’s great – they are enriching our life. If not, then why are we still holding on to them? Maybe it’s because we feel guilty or obligated. Or we have never fully worked through our anger and are still holding on to our grudge. No matter what the reason, there is a cost, since they keep us from spending time and energy on people who we truly love and care about and who truly love and care about us.
So what if we used the Konmari method for things as well as people in our lives? We can acknowledge their contribution, whether they brought us joy in the past or taught us a lesson. We can express our gratitude for what they contributed to our life. And then we can gently let go…
It might take some time and practice, so why not begin by letting go of THINGS that no longer serve us as a first step toward bringing more joy into our lives?