Decluttering is easier said than done

How was it we got so addicted, not only to “having stuff” but needing to give other people lots of stuff too?

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The Independent Online

Moving is rated one of the most stressful experiences in life after death, debt and divorce. These lists are clearly devised by men – as childbirth seldom seems to figure.

OK, so packing boxes is not quite as stressful as going through labour, but as I’ll never experience the latter, and I’m going through the former today, this column is about “stuff”.

These days, I edit the website of a lifestyle brand named High50, championing and re-calibrating modern middle age. Daily, we articulate the new imperatives we experience as we hit 50, which I did last November.

Reasons to declutter: to rid ourselves of a lot of the stuff, even some of the relationships and friends we feel only get in the way of a positive life.

So, this weekend I was aiming to practice what I preach.  However, contemplating clothes that I haven’t worn for more than three years I was somehow paralysed from moving to expunge them.

How was it we got so addicted, not only to “having stuff” but needing to give other people lots of stuff too?

Materialism has gripped so many of us. I can express it simplest through shoes. We all need shoes, but nobody really needs those shoes with red soles. We have confused wanting a pair of Christian Louboutins, an Apple iPhone, a bottle of San Pellegrino or a BMW 3 series convertible with need. We think we need stuff we just want.

It’s the same with letting go. What we have has come to define us. Forget the big stuff, like the house or car: but think of our clothes, our CDs and books, our Swarowski crystal and Hermes bags. It can even be our/my complete collection of 70s’ Star Wars figurines.

“They will be worth something one day” is one excuse for never getting rid. Check out eBay, are those Darth Vaders really worth what you think?

What we actually need is to chuck them out. It’s easier said than done when contemplating that New York Yankees World Series winners pennant or my original 1984 Katharine Hamnett “Save The World T-shirt” (pictured)!

I want to declutter, I really do, but I need help! Anyone?

Stefano Hatfield is editor-in-chief of High50

Twitter: @stefanohat