The Golden Rule of Simplifying

Or at least, OUR golden rule of simplifying! 🙂 It’s interesting, because we often talk with people about simplifying, decluttering, etc. And two facts usually emerge.

  1. Most people see a need for it.
  2. And most don’t think they can do it.

Very interesting, because I sometimes wonder if they only grudgingly admit to the need. Because, you see, we usually have  these conversations when people share complain about having no time, or difficulty keeping up with everything, and a house that’s hard to keep clean. Usually because of too many commitments and too much clutter.

So we share what we’ve learned (and are still learning) about simplicity. And in sharing all the benefits, most see it as wonderful. Who wouldn’t like easier cleaning, debt-free living, greater peace of mind and heart, and more time to pursue greater, more meaningful things?

But “I could never get my house decluttered,” is the oft-repeated answer.

So I thought it might be useful to look at this. Perhaps dispelling some myths as we go, especially about Decluttering.

Some main reasons people can’t make themselves get rid of things:

  • A lot of our stuff is gifts from friends and relatives.
  • What about the memories?!
  • What if I find down the road that I need that item?
  • It all sounds like so much work!

But the biggest reason is this: “I’d never get back what I spent!”

We too went through these same struggles. And I guess you could say my liberating moment came with getting rid of my shoe collection. An absurd story, that shoe collection, in and of itself. But for another time…

I just got tired one day of dusting over 300 miniature shoes! Mostly gifts from people everywhere. Shoes I never wanted. From a collection I never even wanted either!

Ah, but to get rid of them and offend practically everyone I knew? Oh my! Until I finally decided that true friends would understand. And family? Well, they don’t really have much choice do they? They’ll go on being family, even though they often don’t understand our nonconformist steps!

So the friends and relatives? I decided that because they love us they surely want us to make the best choices for ourselves. And, for us at least, that means having more peace, time, and joy!

The memories? You can read more about that in our post, What About the Memories? But even before reading of the family who lost everything through a city hall error, I had decided that true memories will always live on in our hearts. And, for me at least, they’re tied to people and meaningful times, not stuff.

What if I need it down the road? We’ve cut down a lot, sending countless items out the door. And so far, in these 8 years, this has not yet happened! 🙂 But if it should, at least you know that in repurchasing, it is one item that will truly get used!

Decluttering means too much work!

True, the process is work. But the benefits reaped afterward are well worth it. And long-lasting! I wouldn’t go back to dealing with an overstuffed, cluttered house for anything!

But as I said, the main objection raised is never getting back what we spent.

And here is how I reasoned my way through that particular tangle.

We can’t evaluate everything by dollars and cents!

  1. Holding on to stuff does not bring that money back either! Once spent, money is gone.
  2. But we could recoup some of that money, like Hoarder Comes Clean does by selling things on eBay®!
  3. Or at least give the items new life by finding a good home for them where they will be truly used and appreciated.

So our Golden Rule is: Many things are worth more than money. Many things!

I’d once read a quote by William Morris about having nothing in our house unless it’s either useful or beautiful. And that struck a resonant chord.

If it wasn’t useful or making our home beautiful, then it was just creating more work. And work has a way of creating itself. It doesn’t need any help!

Everything in our lives should add value of some kind. Clutter was not adding value, but actually taking it away!

No, we have never gotten back what we spent on all that stuff junk. Yet in getting rid of it, we still gained much!

    • Greater peace of mind and heart.
    • Ease of cleaning.
    • A feeling of space and order.
    • More time for favorite (or new) activities. — Like daily walks and learning French!
    • And better discipline in shopping. — I now ask: “Will I wish I hadn’t bought it, and just end up getting rid of it?”

Yes in decluttering, we clear out a lot of stuff that we spent hard-earned dollars on. And that truly is a shame.

But I’ve learned that hanging on to stuff really just tends to keep us from changing our ways. And getting rid of it starts a liberating mechanism — one that I don’t fully understand. That I simply know works!

Is your stuff adding value to your life? Or is it time to make a clean break with it?

[Image ©TheScorziellos-Sheila]

12 thoughts on “The Golden Rule of Simplifying

  1. The older I get – after years of accumulating – I find there’s a greater freedom in discarding things than in the gathering and keeping of them. Maybe it’s a natural byproduct of being an empty-nester, but I don’t feel the need to “possess” like I once did. I’ve always been an organizer and fairly neat person, but now… no holds barred. If I want to “keep” something, I give it to a friend or family member that wants or needs it; that way I know someone else is also treasuring it. I recently read “The Magic Art of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo, and the entire premise of the book is to only keep things that bring you joy. Simple but brilliant concept; huge impact!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. You know, I never thought about the correlation with empty nests. But I think you’re right. It probably does make a difference. And I love that concept. “Keep only what brings you joy!” I’ve got to check that book out!! Thanks!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. You’re so right about clearing out the clutter of collected possessions! We just had a 3 generation Garage Sale—I’m sure garage sales are uniquely American, but it was so successful and freeing. Bonus ~ a gal who loved my ‘lightly used’ heels, and a little girl who left with a big smile and an armload of games 🙂


    1. Yes Kelly, I think garage sales are uniquely American. Although I do know Great Britain has jumble sales and Australia has some form of this. But not Italy, for sure! The government here would probably think they needed to tax them! But they sure would have been useful to us at times – we’ve moved a lot and always had stuff to get rid of beforehand. It is great when we see the big smiles our “junk” can put on someone else’s heart or face, isn’t it?! As they say, one person’s junk is another’s treasure. I’m always happy to give people “treasures”! As you say, it feels so freeing!! And I do love the idea of a 3 generation sale! Fantastic!! Have a wonderful day, friend.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. We lost our homes twice in terrible storms during our 36 years of marriage. Both times we realized what we “had” to have to survive and what we could do without. It is easy to accumulate…thanks for sharing, very insightful!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow, two times! You must live in a very stormy area. Going through that would definitely change your perspective! I guess moving a lot has helped us in that area. We’ve gotten rid of so much in moves. Always made me wonder why we bothered doing so much accumulating! Life is funny sometimes.


  4. Ah yes, I’ve seen those collections of little shoes elsewhere. People used to bring me snow globes. I had to downsize that collection for various reasons. (I kept two) As for downsizing, I think we have to be really vigilant or “things” try to come back!


    1. Ha, Sandy! That’s a good one! Yes, things do come back! I’m convinced my house produces stuff while I sleep. I kept one shoe, big and made of plaster. It’s almost as a big as a real shoe, heavy, and my pastor’s wife brought it from the USA. But I kept it because it’s a great door stop, LOL! I still can’t believe she stuffed that in her suitcase!! All I know is I’m glad I don’t have all those shoes to dust!!


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