We’ve all seen them — television shows dedicated to exposing the horror of hording, uncovering out-of-control “crazies” whose apparent love-of-stuff has reached the tipping point. But these exposés rarely delve into the why’s of this behaviour, the psychology behind the desire or need to accumulate material possessions beyond what most of us would consider a “normal” level of comfort and security.
In the The Architecture of Happiness, Alain de Botton says:
“What we seek, at the deepest level, is inwardly to resemble, rather than physically to possess, the objects and places that touch us through their beauty.”
And there, I believe, lies the rub. Because if you begin to seek inwardly to resemble the latest kitchen gadget (I admit I am entranced by my espresso maker) you may find yourself falling down a bottomless well.
And you will keep free falling and looking.
However, put alongside the above quote from de Botton, this essential statement from the British craftsman William Morris, father of the early twentieth century’s Arts and Crafts movement:
“If you want a golden rule that will fit everything, this is it: Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”
And you marry the psychology of desire with the actuality of “stuff”.
So, on to the de-cluttering. Face your stuff, pick up that last pair of designer jeans you bought and think. . .
1) At your deepest level, do you wish to resemble them?
2) Do you believe them to be truly beautiful?
3) Do you believe them to be actually useful?
Honestly, if you face your “stuff” (read, “clutter”) with these thoughts and questions in mind, you will conquer.
Need a few more practical suggestions on how to de-clutter? Try these articles:
7 Tips to Get With a New Minimalist Mentality: A great article on Houzz about feeling overwhelmed by your stuff and how to pare down, simplify and keep just what you need and love at home.
4 Obstacles to Decluttering — and How to Beat Them: Another article on Houzz on how letting go can be hard, but puts you more in control of your home’s stuff.