That title is not sarcasm or an oxymoron. It’s actually a secret weapon professional organizers use to help clutter-challenged clients part with their “beloved” possessions.
The theory is to physically hold each and everyone one of your possessions in your hands for a few seconds. Within that time, determine whether that item brings you joy in the present sense.
Now, when I say joy, I mean joy. Not whether or not something makes you happy. Happiness, while desired, can be somewhat fleeting. But joy is what makes you hold onto that ticket stub from the first date with your significant other. Or that deteriorating tie your child gave you for that first father’s day.
If in going through your possessions you don’t feel the joy for an item, get rid of it in the way you see fit (e.g. sell it, donate it or throw it out). What unfolds will astound you.
First, you will find yourself living in a home with items that bring you joy. Better yet, those items will now not be stashed away amongst things that did not. So you can be joyful pretty much on a daily basis.
Okay, that might sound a bit hokey, but work with me on this one.
There are several byproducts of this approach. One is how much easier it becomes to put your things away. That’s not only because you have more space. You can actually see the things that bring you joy rather than being lost in a sea of unwanted, unnecessary clutter.
Another is that it makes you more focused and efficient. For example, that old stereo you have kept is not really what brought you joy. It was the music you played on it. So, instead of keeping your vinyl and turntable, stream those memories on your computer or iPod.
Of course, you will not able to get rid of every item that does not bring you joy. You will still need to do the things you do around the house (e.g. not too many joyful vacuum cleaners out there). Yet you can rationalize those possessions. First, most of those items can be stored out of sight. Second, if having a clean home, yard, etc. gives you a sense of accomplishment that can feel an awful lot like joy. And if those things help you achieve that, they can stay.
The key to this exercise starts with finding an item or possession that you know brings you joy. Hold that item in your hands, close your eyes and go back to the first time you felt that joy. Really seal it in your conscious mind. With that locked in, go to the next item. Does that item make you feel anywhere near what you just felt? If not, it goes. If it does, then it stays. Simple as that.
One final note is that this process also sets the bar for your future purchases. If it doesn’t bring you joy, it doesn’t come home.
read how decluttering and organizing can help you get the most out of life