The Happiness Project
Otherwise known as De-Cluttering my Life and Home
On reflection many of the books I read this past year have been about evaluating your life, looking for fulfillment and personal peace, and gratitude—in general looking for Happiness. I think it is something most of us do without really thinking about it—“I’ll be happy if/when” or “ if I buy this or that it will make me happy”. We are constantly under attack by the media with the implied thought that the more things we have, the happier we will be.
I’ve been thinking about this idea for a while now and have come to a different conclusion: we have so much stuff that we fail to realize that the things are not what makes us happy but the feelings that they generate are what we were actually desiring. We keep looking for that feeling by buying even more with fleeting enjoyment.
This really came to light when we were cleaning out my basement after Hurricanes Irene and Lee left some water in their wake. It was a blessing in disguise since the basement had become a depository of the things we did not use daily so they did not rate prime space in the actual house. I was having great difficulty throwing things out since they reflected my children’s past interests but were no longer being used. I was remembering the time we spent together making the crafts, but in truth the crafts themselves were not all that remarkable; it was the feeling and memories of our time spent together that I did not want to lose.
When it all comes down to it though…I have too much stuff. My attic and basement are full of things I don’t know what to do with and so they just get stored. We continue to buy things we don’t need because its something we found while together. I would enjoy my house more if there were less clutter, making it feel more of a Home and less of a storage place.
So, the Happiness Project is my goal for the remainder of the year, and beyond. My goal is to go through the things in our house and give away those things that only clutter my Home and Life—do I really need:
Dozens of cookbooks I no longer use?
Boxes of books in my attic that I have no time to re-read?
Clothes that are no longer my style or size?
Boxes of VHS movies and CDs I never use?
Practically every school paper from both my children ?(elementary school only)
I’m sure there are many things that were purchased or saved because I felt I needed to at the time—souvenirs, cards, fund raiser items or gifts that I felt I had to keep. Books are harder—I LOVE books—but there are so many more I want to read that I will most likely never have time to read the ones boxed in the attic again.
My plan is to go through my closets, attic and basement—basically all aspects of my life and save only the things that actually bring me Happiness. This may in fact be more difficult than I think; is it the object that I love or the memory of an event that brings me Joy? The other issue is that not all objects are mine to decide their fate as they belong to my husband and daughters.
This will be more than a cleansing of my house—the only way to avoid gathering more but different items will be to examine the Why of what made me keep them in the first place. I’ll have to look for insights of what makes me happy. Is true Happiness and Contentment to be found in things or in the memories that will always be mine to treasure?
I invite you to travel along with me on my journey of more than 20 years of things in my house and heart. Maybe it will help you find reasons of why you may also be a ‘keeper of clutter’. Maybe it will free you from owning too many things and loving the ones you decide to keep. Maybe it will give you a laugh at some of my decisions. Either way, feel free to add your thoughts and feelings—there is always room on the road to happiness.