When I came upon a book titled, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Well. You know. Magic. Life-changing. The author is foreign giving her message more weight. The book's suggested regimen is so radical, we assume a payoff of spectacular personal change.
My life, by the way, is already magically transformed. Logically I had no right to succeed at anything. I perfected the maneuver of sounding smart by remembering everything and knowing nothing completely. It has brought me far. I have received almost everything I've ever wanted and expect to get the few items left very soon. I share this because, like many, I enjoy any documentation of all the things that are seriously wrong with me and are blocking any hope of a good happy life.
Are books like this of any use? Yes. Books like these are useful when there is something mildly wrong with us and we need a little kick to try out a new idea and challenge some dusty status quo. A new idea that requires action (getting rid of all useless possessions) takes hold in stages. There's the first layer where you get rid of obvious trash: torn clothing, broken utensils, etc. A few days later, your eyes and mind open a little wider and you get rid of stuff that isn't broken but is useless and possibly worthless. All subsequent stages are true awakenings wherein you realize how all this stuff is mentally weighing you down and you can't get rid of it fast enough. No regrets!
Let's take the book, Stuff - compulsive hoarding and the meaning of things. I had all the classic symptoms of a mild hoarder and the evidence was in my garage. I was certain I would one day sell the stuff in my garage so why should I throw it away? I don't feel that way anymore and although I have sold a few things, I have also given away or thrown away much more. Sadly, I still hoard some clothes from when I was thinner.
I received two useful messages from these books and both improved my life.
It's okay to let go of stuff. It takes a while for this idea to take root. Familiarity is not a reason to retain anything. Let it all go by whatever means. It's beneficial. Think of it as psychic income. Visually, it's liberating to see empty space. Emotionally, there's a sense of relief not to be responsible for fixing, refurbishing or using any of the stuff. Mentally, you now have room for other thoughts.
It's not a sin to throw away/give back sentimental keepsakes and you won't regret it later.
All the "awwh" stuff you kept from when the kids were little, including handprints in clay, macaroni portraits, abstract paintings, sat scores, mother's day cards, etc. can be boxed and given to each child to do with as they wish.
My favorite title by far is Selfish, Shallow and Self-absorbed. That should be my autobiography. If we are realistic, it is probably the universal autobiography. We want everything to be about us. So what? Think about it. That's the way it has to be. By the way, the above book is about deciding not to have children but you can have children to enhance your selfishness, shallowness and self-absorption because what are children but miniature versions of us.