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This isn’t the first article I have ever written on minimalism or hoarding, and it probably won’t be the last (I wrote many of them when I was a steady writer for Yahoo Contributor Network). However, after recently watching the documentary Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things and starting to get back onto my own path of enlightenment, I decided it was time to delve back into this subject again, for myself as much as for the rest of you reading my articles.
Let me start by stating that I am not a minimalist. I have been, but I am not at this time. However, I do understand how to shop and I only buy things that I need or that I love and will serve some sort of purpose in my life (even if that purpose is to simply bring me joy or put a smile on my face). Once it stops being something that makes me happy I get rid of it. I have no connection to the items I own, aside from one item (a stuffed toy I have owned since I was born). Items are not people, they are not memories, they are just things.
Are You A Hoarder?
There are a lot of people out there that like to think that the only way you’re technically a hoarder is if you’re saving trash or feces. These are extremes of hoarding and they are scary, but even if your addiction to stuff isn’t that bad, you might still be a hoarder. The dictionary defines a hoarder as “a person who hoards things.” It says nothing about what those things need to be.
Not sure if you’re a hoarder? It’s really not that hard to tell. And there is a difference between someone that collects things and someone that hoards things. You can have a collection of various autographed sports memorabilia and not be a hoarder. If you have all of those items and a house full to the ceiling of other stuff then you are definitely a hoarder. If you're not taking care of those collections or putting them on display, you're probably a hoarder.
Someone that has more items than they need is a hoarder. Even if the only room in your house that is hard to get into is the bathroom because you have 20 bottles of everything one would need in a bathroom, you’re still hoarding. You don’t need all of that stuff. On the other end of the spectrum, if your home is full of so much stuff from end to end it makes it more obvious that you have a problem. You’re also putting your life in danger by having so much stuff.
How To Let Go
Normally hoarding is a symptom of a mental illness. That means that you need to seek therapy if you really want to let go of all of that stuff. I didn’t go to therapy, I just realized one day I had a problem and set myself on the path to change my ways (it wasn’t easy and it took more than a year to go through stuff and learn what’s important and what’s not).
Look around your home and really look at the things that surround you. Determine what you can live without and get rid of it. Only keep the items that serve an actual purpose in your life. If you haven’t touched a piece of clothing or a kitchen gadget in six months it’s pretty likely you’re never going to use it. Donate your items to a local thrift store so that they can go to someone that actually needs them. Let go of heirlooms as well. Unless you have a precious item that is worth money and you intend to hand it down through the family, it shouldn’t be hard to get rid of someone else’s stuff. That chipped tea set is not your dead grandma and she is not going to haunt you for letting it go to the dump.
Learn To Shop Smarter
One thing that still helps me every time I go shopping is to determine if an item I want serves a purpose. I ask myself if I need the item, if I have a use for the item, and how the item makes me feel. I do this before I make my purchase. I still impulse buy on rare occasions, but I am not afraid to march right back into the store and return my items once that buyer’s remorse sets in.
Take some time to learn the difference between your wants and your needs and you can rid your home of tons of “baggage”, both physically and emotionally. You may want ten bags of chips, but you’re better off with one bag of carrots.