I used to have a storage unit I am ashamed to say. I have always had a storage unit since I quit my job, sold my home and went on the road teaching wellness and enlightenment. It was filled with clothes, memorabilia, photos, furniture, toys, guns, and assorted other possessions that I never used. I think the definition of storage is “the place you put things you never use”. Conversely, I can say that my current storage unit is only 6 feet by 6 feet, the smallest it has ever been. There are no clothes, no furniture, no guns, no toys, only tax records that the IRS says I have to keep and some artwork I need to sell on Ebay. I am as lean as I have ever been.
There are some very practical reasons why storing stuff you will never use is a bad idea. If nothing else, the hundreds of dollars a month I spend on the storage unit could be much better spent elsewhere. However, I value having a spare bedroom vs a storage room in my Manhattan apartment so I will continue to write that check, but I do need to downsize now that I have given away some things. Here are some great reasons to empty out your closets and storage space:
- Energy: One of the biggest blocks to the flow of energy is having no place for it to go. If you are bursting at the seams with stuff that you never use, you are not only telling the universe you don’t need anything, you are telling yourself that you don’t want anything new. If you have ever said to yourself “where would I put it?”, you have dammed up the flow of energy within yourself. When you empty out your storage, closets, drawers and other places you create space for the energy to flow and it will start moving again. Out with the old, in with the new!
- Charity: In order to create new things in your life, you need to get rid of the unused and old. If you are hoarding, you are stopping commerce. The best way to jumpstart your life, your relationships and your business is to start giving away anything you don’t need. I had to move from Las Vegas two years ago and really didn’t want to move a house full of stuff. I also had a 20 feet by 20 feet storage unit that was full of unused stuff. I put a listing on Craig’s List that a couple of items would be given for free to the first persons to show up. A young couple whose wife was pregnant with twins showed up with a pickup truck to claim their prize. As it turns out they had just moved to Las Vegas and had rented a house with no furnishings. As a result, I gave them everything in my house. It was a win-win for me, and they were overjoyed to furnish their house for free. If you have stuff you don’t need, give it away or at least put it up for sale on some social media site.
- Dharma: The notion of what goes around comes around is usually known as karma, as in “bad”. There is a “good” side of that equation, which is known as dharma or “good deeds”. By giving away items that you no longer use, you are creating dharma for yourself and you will build self-worth and self-esteem.
- Estate Planning: If you have children, there are always things that you want them to have; photos, sentimental stuff (like grandma’s ceramics) and other things that only have sentimental value. When your children get old enough, strongly consider handing these items down to them. Let them pick and choose. It is a lot easier for them to do this under your supervision than it will be after you are gone. I had hundreds of framed photos of my kids growing up that were just collecting dust. I am a strong believer of living in the “NOW” and that means don’t keep photos of people that no longer exist. Give them the photos if they want them. If they don’t want them, you are free to have a big bonfire with them. Perhaps you can choose to let them have a great lesson in living in the “NOW” as well. This also is a great way of letting go of the past. Most of us have traumatic memories of the past and we let them be our jailers. When we get rid of photographs that may remind us of these traumatic moments, we are escaping those memories for good and consciously letting go of the negative energy associated with them.
- Travel light: Some of us die in the house that we are born in. This is a minute percentage of the population, and the reality is most of us move several times in our lifetimes. I calculate I have moved 20 times and I am getting tired of the baggage. My ultimate goal is to be able to leave a place with all of my possessions in an automobile. I am not there yet, but if I had to move in one week I could do so. That gives me a great sense of freedom and lightness, without having to move a lot of crap that I don’t care about. Anything that we are attached to is a burden. If we can honestly relate to our stuff from a “take it or leave it” standpoint, it belongs to us, we don’t belong to it.
- Shit happens: I once owned a large home that was fully furnished. While it was on the market to be sold, I let the daughter of my business manager stay in the place to watch over the extensive collections and furnishings I had accumulated over 40 years. I went to check on the place after two months and everything, and I mean everything, had been stolen and sold for crack cocaine. It was certainly cathartic to say the least. However, on the positive side, I sold the house quicker since it was empty and didn’t have to hire movers to leave. It was a great lesson in letting go of my attachment to possessions. The memories I chose to remember are the ones stored in my heart that make me happy, not the ones conjured by dusting the photos of a challenging childhood.
It is my experience that we don’t need stuff to be happy, satisfied and fulfilled. Accumulating stuff is just something that we do, especially if we don’t want to waste things or throw anything away. Recycling is a much more positive way to think about downsizing and allowing new things into our life. So put your stuff on Ebay or Craigslist, trade it on a bartering website or donate it to a worthy charity (do your research, some aren’t so worthy). It is amazing how much lighter and freer you will feel knowing that the things you don’t need any more, will continue to serve their purpose better in the hands of those that truly need them right now.
Reprinted from The Elephant Journal