Love it or Let it Go: Surprising Lessons Decluttering Teaches


Our homes can get overwhelmed with too much “stuff.” If you have too much clutter, rooms are left unusable and things can be easily misplaced. According to experts at Psychology Today, clutter can even have a negative effect on your mental health, causing self-esteem, overeating or troubled thinking. It’s no wonder that bestselling books like Marie Kondo’s The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up are runaway hits. Decluttering is a way you can let go and live a lighter life, plus it can even teach you some valuable lessons in the end. Here are the lessons you learn with decluttering.


We need less than we think.

What do we really need? If you look at your closet, you may think that you need all of those shoes, jackets or purses – but do you really? We all probably have items that we hang on to because we think we’ll need them “someday,” but we can be wrong on what we need. Will that “someday” actually arrive? However, when you start going through your belongings and realizing how you never use them, you start to see the waste of storing them. After you purge the belongings and find them new homes, you’re left only with the things that you use or love. A few months down the line, you’ll see that you didn’t need to keep that thing for “someday.”

Clutter is emotional.

Just look around your room or house, and you’ll find at least 5 things that have an emotional meaning. Sometimes these things are hard to let go, even if we don’t use them, so we just hold on them. For instance, if you got an anniversary gift of a panini press, you may think that’s it too nice to just discard. You instead let it sit on your counter, and it just takes up space. Why? You might think the giver tried hard to give you a nice gift and you hate for their efforts to be ignored. So now along with that panini press, you’re also harboring some nice guilt. If you can’t find beauty, function or enjoyment out of the items, let them go. In return, you’ll feel free as a weight is lifted off your shoulders. By giving away items that had meaning to you, whether it’s to a friend or a community group, you can reclaim space and know that someone else will get a chance to enjoy the item.

You appreciate your kept things more when you let go of others.

As you slim down your closet, minimize the kitchen cabinets or reduce clutter on your bookshelves, you’re reducing to just the things that make you happy. Now the books you have or the dishes you display are the ones that make your heart sing. When you see these, you don’t feel guilt or sadness, only joy. Without a bunch of knick-knacks or books cluttering your shelves, you’re probably more likely to dust or organize your things, giving you pride in looking at them.

Decluttering points you towards what makes you happy.

Do you know what makes you happy? I recently turned a junk closet into a cozy little writing nook, complete with a desk from IKEA. The closet was previously an eyesore, with nothing but crammed boxes, bags of paperwork and clothes that weren’t worn. I wanted a space where I could pursue creative writing or write letters, and the closet seemed like the perfect choice. I wasn’t using it, so why couldn’t it be for something I loved doing? The paperwork didn’t make me happy, the clothes weren’t useful and I didn’t like having to keep the closet closed. Now thanks to a light, the desk and a chair, I have a great space to create. As we declutter, we give ourselves more space or ability to do what makes us happy, whether it’s writing or organizing family photos into the computer or anything else that you enjoy.

Decluttering a cramped closet or living room may seem like a tough job, but it’s worth it, because the lessons–and space–you get at the end are priceless.