The Radical Decision to Tidy Up

When I first read about the book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I knew it was ultimately about my life, and I wasn’t emotionally prepared to do that at the time. So when that book made its way into my cart at Costco, I knew I was as ready as I was going to be. This book is about letting go of things we own. That process can be challenging.

I had a hard time at first with the book. She advocates the practice of thanking the things we own. I easily give thanks FOR things that I have. But never TO them. And, quite frankly, I chuckled a bit as I read about thanking these things, out loud. But I kept reading. I was definitely ready for this letting go.

tidying up
She tells you to put every article of clothing you own in one place–forcing you to look at all that’s there. Then she states the only guideline for keeping anything: Does it bring you joy? Okay. So, what if it doesn’t bring you joy–but you spent a ton of money on it? Costly things are hard to let go. I justified those purchases by allowing them space in my closet. I pulled a couple of expensive items out of the pile, things that had hung for a long time. I thanked them—yes, out loud– for serving their purpose that season (even if it was just in the act of buying them).

It is hard to let go of things that cost us. So we will often just keep them to avoid thinking that we overspent or made a bad decision. But what if really did cost that much to satisfy a need we had at the time? Lying to myself about possibly wearing it one day isn’t justifying the cost. Coming to terms with why I bought it in the first place does. Once I had the perspective that it wasn’t about the number of times I wore the thing, but instead about the purpose it served at the time, I was able to release it.

So finally, I came face to face with the life application. I had invested many years in some things that had recently come crashing down. I held on to all the emotions attached because, after all, it had cost me plenty. I let so many emotions “hang in the back of the closet” for a while. Letting go of them seemed wasteful. Until I came to terms with the lack of joy those emotions brought. Sorry, it is time to thank you and let you go.

Letting go helps us in so many ways:

1.     It unclutters our lives.
Cluttered lives are stressful. We have a hard time focusing and a hard time resting because there is always something vying for attention. In a yelling at us kind of way.
2.     It makes our lives bigger.
I used to think the more I had going on, the bigger my life. Wrong. During that season, I couldn’t say yes to anything new. I was cramped and had little space to breathe. My space now seems expansive and I honestly feel like I can see so much farther. And feel so much more joy.
3.     It allows more room for other things.
There are things we can invest in now, maybe with more wisdom and gratitude for what that all means. We are more comfortable with who we are, with who we are becoming, in our own skin. It’s not about comparison and performance measurements. It’s about being brave and authentic and honest with ourselves.

It’s true. I am now thanking inanimate objects. But I have also been able to thank those life experiences that produced a sense of sadness, loss, and regret. “You served a purpose in my life, and I am grateful for the way you shaped me, the way you changed me. I am grateful TO and I am grateful FOR everything that has helped me grow.

After letting go, there is letting grow. That’s the point of going through all this. That’s the magic in tidying up. It’s time to move forward; there is so much room to grow.

“Sometimes the greatest thing to come out of all your hard work isn’t what you get for it, but what you become for it. Shake things up today! Be You…Be Free…”
Steve Maraboli, Life, Truth, and Being Free