What I’m Learning As I Purge Our House

There was a time in my life when I moved at least once a year. It was during those college years, and the years of being newly married, before Ben and I finally built our little house in Niverville.

During that stretch of time, I didn’t have a lot of junk. I used what I owned, and I got rid of the rest. Moving is very handy that way.

But during the times when we’ve stayed in the same place for a number of years, and added a couple of kids to our family, oh my word, is it ever easy to store up stuff!!

STUFF! Tons of it is so unnecessary.

So as our moving day is approaching, I’m purging away like crazy, and I have lots of time to think while I’m emptying drawers and packing up boxes of belongings I do not wish to belong to anymore.

Here are some of the things I’m learning while getting ready to move again:

1. The less stuff I own, the happier I am.

I always think that shopping and getting new things is fun and exciting. But how long does the excitement last? (And how shallow is that excitement, anyway?!)

I’m finding that when I own less stuff, I get rid of guilt in my life over things I shouldn’t have bought in the first place, or don’t use because I don’t like it but feel that I should be making use of it.

For example, I read somewhere that we only wear 15% of the clothes we own. That’s a pretty small amount of clothing. I think I need lots of clothing so I will have lots of variety, and not get tired of my clothes, but then I only end up wearing my favorite stuff, anyway.

So I got rid of all the clothing I don’t actually like and never actually use, and it feels wonderful. You would not believe the joy I receive when I open our closet, and see only my favorite things in there. Pure happiness.

2. The more I get rid of, the less I feel like shopping.

All the effort of sorting and purging makes me think twice about buying more stuff. When I think about how much money I spent on all that stuff, and now it’s just getting shipped off to MCC, it seems like a very big waste.

When I choose to buy something, I am spending money on it, I’m spending energy on it by shopping for it, and then organizing it, and finally getting rid of it.  It would be better not to buy so much stuff in the first place.

To read more on that topic, check out this fantastic blog post.

3. There is a very fine line between owning stuff, and having it own you.

I want to have things. I want to own things. I look at stuff on Pinterest, and it is very beautiful. I go to the mall, and suddenly, I am very convinced that I must own all of those wonderful new things that will make me appear more stylish and trendy and rich. (It sounds so ugly, but let’s just get it all out there, shall we?)

But then I come home, and all of my stuff controls how much time I have to spend cleaning and organizing. My stuff takes up room in our house and in my head. I didn’t actually realize it until I started getting rid of it. When there is no guilt about items I’m not using, and there are no objects to clean around, and the girls actually play with most of their toys, and I actually like reading all of the kids books in the basket, I wonder why in the world I put up with all that stuff for so long. Now that it’s gone, I can feel the space it left behind – and it’s a very, very good kind of a space.

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Now, I realize that not everybody is actually moving right now, and are therefore not experiencing the same motivation. If you wish you had that same motivation, you could always try the little game Ben and I used to play when we were living in Niverville. We cleaned out our basement one spring, and the question we asked ourselves over and over again was, “If we were moving to Africa, would we keep this?”

Africa, because it needed to be somewhere very far away to make it more dramatic and obvious which items would have to be stored, and which items just WERE NOT WORTH IT!! It worked very well. I highly recommend it.

Wouldn’t it be fun if MCC stores were suddenly swamped with boxes because everyone was “moving to Africa”? 🙂 So much freedom, so much joy.

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For some practical tips on purging, read this post.