Getting rid of your possessions can seem like a daunting task. However, it is a step that must be taken if you wish to simplify your life and start your journey toward minimalism. Over the years we have all accumulated large quantities of stuff and we have stored these objects somewhere in our homes just in case we needed them again or simply because we felt attached to them and didn’t want to let these things go. Next thing you know, that stuff you stored a short while ago has been collecting dust for over 5 years. When it’s time to clear this clutter, you just can’t bring yourself to do it because you have somehow built a long-lasting bond with these objects. Personally, I become very attached to objects whether they hold value or not. We are emotional creatures so it is normal that we build emotional bonds with whatever we own even if we don’t use it anymore, just like that old pair of shoes that has gone through so much with you.
The Stoics believed that we should place our love in concepts and not objects. What does this mean? Well, you should try being passionate about the general idea of the object and not the object itself. Let’s say I had a blue polo shirt that I loved a lot. I loved it so much that I would wear it almost every day. Nevertheless, since I wore it so often it go all used up and the holes in the sleeves made me look ridiculous in public. If I kept the old shirt in my closet, it would just be taking up useful space. This would be a result of me not being able to let go of the bond between me and this particular polo shirt. However, if I loved the general concept of blue polo shirts it would be easy for me to get rid of the old polo and just buy a new one. When you love a concept or an idea, you place your passion in something that doesn’t occupy any space, something that doesn’t physically exist. Remember, a concept is eternal but an object is not which means the concept will always be available to you.
This simple tactic was used by the Stoics to avoid the pain of losing something. This is why it makes parting with your possessions a lot easier so you can finally start decluttering.
In conclusion, you should love the idea or the concept of the object you enjoy. Try telling yourself “I love […] in general” or “I love the general idea of […]”. Also, instead building bonds with inanimate objects, try building bonds with other people. If you place your love in your relationships, there is a good chance these relationships will return the love you gave out. So try being less attached to objects if you can, whether it’s a cell phone you like, a house you’ve had for twenty years or your beloved blue polo.