According to Wikipedia, one in ten US households has a storage unit and we own the vast majority of the 58,000 facilities in the world. Australia has 1,000, there are 700 in the United Kingdom and 220 in France. Clearly Americans have too much stuff.
And the vast majority of that stuff honestly doesn’t have value to anyone except us – and maybe not even to us. I am not talking about things we use and things that make us happy to look at.
I’m talking about the boxes of miscellaneous stuff in the garage that no one has opened for years. Or the holiday decorations from the 1980’s that came from your mom’s house or the sports equipment you haven’t touched since New Year’s Day ten years ago. The old magazines you haven’t read yet but will someday. The craft projects started five years ago. The baby clothes. The old paint.
Our Feng Shui friends tell us that keeping stuff around clouds our thinking and adds to the mental and emotional baggage we haul around every day. It makes us tired and unhappy, and limits our ability to see things in a positive light. Getting rid of extra stuff declutters our houses and minds, and leaves us open to new adventures.
See this article by Kathryn Webber or this one from eomega.org for some excellent suggestions to make the decluttering less painful. If you only have time to worry about three spaces right now, try this article from ExperienceLife.com.
Part of thinking ahead to the day when we’ll be gone means getting rid of the extra stuff. It might seem like a great plan to leave that attic alone and let your kids sort it out after you’ve shuffled off this mortal coil, but save them the trouble and do it now.
This is also a great time to give things to people who want and will value your gifts. As Phillip Roth says, “It’s best to give while your hand is still warm.”
If you aren’t convinced we have too much stuff, or if you haven’t seen George Carlin’s “Stuff” routine in a while, indulge yourself for five minutes and watch this YouTube video. Caution: it’s George Carlin so adults only and probably best not at work.