When you live a categorized life, you live a happy life. Seriously, we all know money does not make us happy. Some people think it does, since it appears more stuff, and more expensive stuff makes us feel more powerful, and better about ourselves, but it is not true. I have seen people with enough stuff to fill a museum who are miserable, and minimalists that wreak of depression. Stuff or no stuff, it's not belongings that make us authentically, deep down, happy. It's knowing what we value
What I found after working as an organizer, on 1000's of homes and businesses, is what makes people happy, when it comes to their stuff. People love things that they love, things they use, things that serve a purpose, and most of all things that are sentimental. But, there is a catch. People only truly, unconditionally love their things when their things are organized. Organized means things are categorized, put away by category, and most of all contained, and easy to access. Otherwise a futile love and hate relationship, stamped with panicked, and frantic searches, creates a sense of hopelessness, and disappointment with our treasured things.
What we collect, our possessions, does not define us, although, when we can't access what we want, admire and want to show off to others, we tend to get a bit berserk about it. We are highly connected to our stuff, especially when we can't find what we are looking for. When we can't find something that we want, when we want it, and within a reasonable amount of time, it takes the wind out of us. When you get to the point your screeching around your place and thinking "Where's my .....?", remember what truly defines you are your thoughts, words and actions, and doing what you value. The question is "Do you know what you truly value in life?
Currently I value cooking healthy and yummy meals, working on books that I'm writing, time with my husband and friends, staying connected to family, calming and relaxing outings, and steady exercise. It's surprising how my value system has changed since my 30's and 40's, when it was more about going out, hanging out, and dining out, and depending on friendships, that were more like commune buddies. I love my independent alone time more than anything now. I laugh at some of the outfits I used to wear, the kind of shoes I could swing, the books I used to treasure, board games and cd's. As our life evolves, and we change our values, and what we like to do, our stuff changes, along with us. In order to own and posses things that fit our today life, we want to first take a look at what we own by category. When we see things in categories we have clarity about the actual amount of stuff we own.
Categorizing everything we own, puts how much of what we have into perspective. Using the I-Deal-Lifestyle method for what we keep in our lives makes the journey through our stuff so much easier. The criteria for making good decisions about what to keep is priceless. Ask yourself with each item you process, "Will I use it, Does it serve a purpose, Is it sentimental and Do I love it?" This technique will help you determine what to keep, and what to part with. Look through your stuff, also with another I-Deal-Lifestyle method, called the "No regrets" policy. Before I created this criteria I would give things away spontaneously, without thinking it through. I still have regrets about certain items I wish I had held onto, and kept in my today life.
I still miss, with all my heart, my stereo that could hold, and randomly play 12 CD's in an evening, without have to yell "Alexa" at the top of my lungs. I miss my pager, that I shoved in a drawer in 2003, thinking to hell with you, when I bought my first cell phone, which now seems to be the more evil of the two. I miss my old car, that had a rubber bumper instead of a plasticky one that dents or scrapes if I look at it. I still scratch my head wondering why I gave away certain items that still have a special place in my heart, and because I loved them. I know the answer though, and it is because I did not think about what I valued during that time in my life, and in my current one, which was and is, dancing in my socks, on my travertine floor to my wonderful collection of music that I could count on without digital, downloads, and desperately difficult options.
Figuring out what you value in the now is important for you to determine what you want hanging out in your space. Don't be hasty to "throw away the farm." I say, "Matter, matters."
Once you figure out what it is you're going to keep around, categorize all of it to the bone, contain it, and find each category a home unto itself. This will certainly put a smile on your face, since you will be able to breathe easier, and find things quicker.
Marla Stone is the owner of I-Deal-Lifestyle -
A Professional Organizer - Decor and Feng Shui Idealist - Lifestyle Coach and NAPO Member.
Marla earned her BA in Psychology and a Master's in Social Work and is the founder of I-Deal-Lifestyle, a Self and Space Organization Service.