Spring Cleaning: Letting Go With Gratitude

By: Caroline Dowd-Higgins

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There’s something about fresh starts outside that inspire fresh starts inside. Sun shining, buds popping, and warmer temperatures inspire us to open the windows to let the air in, which can, in turn, inspire us to send the clutter out!

Marie Kondo can certainly help in this regard. Kondo is the organizing wunderkind and author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up from Japan who has inspired legions of “stuff” collectors, myself included, to send their assorted stuff packing.

[Related: Design Your New Year with Meaning and Purpose]

Kondo’s message to those who have closets, drawers, and crawl spaces packed to the gills? If it’s outlived its use, out it goes…and, even more importantly, if it doesn’t bring you JOY — out it goes.

What a paradigm shift. In Kondo world, it’s not, “I need to keep this sweater because it’s so practical”…it’s all about, “Does it still serve, and does it bring me JOY?”

How many of us hang onto that pair of “sensible” sandals we never wear “just in case,” or that pair of shorts that sit in the drawer season after season because “they were way too expensive to just toss aside?”

It can go against every fiber in our body to get rid of something that “still has use,” but that’s what Kondo is asking us to do in order to travel lighter and more joyfully through life.

[Related: 8 Easy Steps to Revamp A Room When You’re Not a Designer]

I love Kondo’s approach to this age-old dilemma. Kondo says that, as with people who come into our lives for a reason, a season, or a lifetime, possessions can fulfill their purpose in different ways, as well.

For instance, Kondo says:

  • If you bought an item because you thought it looked cool in the shop, it has fulfilled the function of giving you a thrill when you bought it.
  • If you bought an item that ultimately didn’t look good on you, the purpose of the purchase was to help teach you styles to veer away from/styles better suited to your body-type or taste.

We tend to beat ourselves up for making these “bad decisions,” but Kondo frames it differently, encouraging us to say “thank you” to the item. “Thank you for giving me joy when I bought you”…or “Thank you for teaching me what doesn’t suit me.”

It may seem wacky to personify our things as Kondo suggests, but, in a weird and wonderful way, I think it gives us a better context for extracting all the extraneous clothing and stuff we keep around year after year.

In conclusion, Kondo says:

If things had feelings, they would certainly not be happy. Help them leave the deserted isle to which you have exiled them. By acknowledging their contribution and letting them go with gratitude, you will be able to truly put the things you own, and your life, in order. In the end, all that will remain are the things you truly treasure.

So as you open up those off-season bins and closets, I encourage you to give each item the “Marie Kondo” test to help lighten your load. Here’s to all of us de-cluttering with gratitude, and surrounding ourselves with the things that truly bring us joy!

[Related: Thirty Days of Me First]

Caroline Dowd-Higgins authored the book “This Is Not the Career I Ordered” (now in the 2nd edition) and maintains the career reinvention blog of the same name. She is Executive Director of Career & Professional Development at the Indiana University Alumni Association and contributes to Huffington Post, Thrive Global, Ellevate Network, Medium, and The Chronicle newspaper in Indiana. Her online show: Thrive! about career and life empowerment for women is on YouTube. Caroline hosts the award-winning podcast, Your Working Life on iTunes and SoundCloud. Follow her on Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, and Twitter.

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Originally published at https://www.ellevatenetwork.com.

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