While decoration might be regarded only from a point of view of beauty and emotion, there could be practical reasons involved, too: maybe the decorations are valuable and serve as an investment, or they might serve to display status, or they serve as a practical item to structure the space they are in, like display cabinets or a piece of art splitting a room into two areas.
And while there may be a practical reason for keeping certain items, most of the decorative stuff is really up for grabs when it comes to thinking about keeping or removing it: as soon as you don’t realise any longer that it is there, it has served its purpose and could really be replaced by something different that grabs your interest. To clarify this point: that ‘new’ thing might actually just be an old thing that has been biding its time in a dark place until it is remembered, taken out and displayed again.
You may not be aware of it, but humans by their very nature tend to be collectors, and most likely so are you. The vast majority of us have that nagging feeling that everything we come across is meant to become important to us in some distant future, and once we own it we have trouble letting go of it again because we never know if one just like this will ever cross our path again.
Having lots of things is not exactly an issue, really, but things accumulate very quickly and before you know it your home could be inundated with them, and you’ll end up having too many things on the shelves, books left without a spot to call their own on the bookshelf and kitchen surfaces being overrun by electrical appliances to a point where making a sandwich becomes an exercise in appliance jenga. Let’s stick to the purely decorative stuff for now, though.
As mentioned earlier, decorations and artwork have one thing in common: they tend to become invisible after a while because they do not mainly serve a practical purpose. Their main reason for being is to be beautiful. And while that beauty may remain, you also become used to seeing something in a particular spot very quickly. And when that item no longer appears on our radar, it becomes part of the ambient background of your home. When that happens, why keep it at all? In fact, once that has happened the decoration has no longer a proper function: it does not enhance your experience at all because the only part of you picking up on that item is your subconscious. For some people that might be enough, but don’t forget: once something disappears from your conscious experience it can very easily become a breeding ground for something else on top: more stuff will appear near it or on top of it, gradually blocking out the original item. On another note: this disappearance is also the main reason why people don’t react more quickly. Why they feel slightly uneasy for no apparent reason, they simply cannot see that thing anymore, and therefore don’t realise it’s one of the reasons for that uneasy feeling.
This brings me to a particular issue with decorations: most of them are rather smaller items, and not so much things that fill a complete wall. Smaller items tend to accumulate in clumps, and grow in number slowly but steadily, building up to become a collection. If you find that you keep a lot of knickknacks you will instinctively understand what I’m writing about here.
If you have decided to let go of certain items, and simply cannot decide which ones, maybe just keep some of them on prominent display and switch them out occasionally to keep it fresh. Having too much in plain sight distracts from the individual items. You’ll enjoy them much more this way and with open space around your stuff, you’ll breathe easier, physically and mentally. As an additional point: there are practical advantages to this as well: with fewer items you’ll have less trouble with your household chores: you’ll save time dusting because there is less stuff to move around.
Similar approaches (limitation to a smaller number and regular exchange) can be used for all kind of decorations, like picture frames on the mantelpiece, artwork with too much other stuff surrounding it, even the notes on a pin board.
Shuffling things around is a good thing, but that does not mean you can’t let go of things! Don’t keep anything FOREVER just because it’s there. Make an effort to really look at things and find out just why you want to keep this particular item. Be honest with yourself: if you cannot find a reason, it’s just habit and you probably won’t miss it… Give it a try.
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Hi, my name is Tilo Flache. My current mission: help my clients declutter mind and space.
This blog contains pointers for your journey towards a happier living experience.