One morning, I opened my mail and saw an advertisement which offered a plan for a free 14-day challenge to help cut down on life’s clutter to find more balance, freedom and joy.
The ad said, usually uncluttering is overwhelming for anyone and so they would email a daily tip that would help unclutter one area of your life. They promised that at the end of 14 days you will be a happier person.
This got me thinking and took me down memory lane. Early in our marriage, my husband and I got into the habit of planning what we needed to do to keep our home uncluttered but it never worked. A good time to unclutter was when we moved houses, especially moved cities. In our 24 years of marriage, we have moved twice out of Bangalore and nearly 10 houses.
The first move we made was to be closer to my Mum, who was taking care of my baby daughter, and was just 2 years into our marriage. I was shocked to see the amount of things we had accumulated. The main item we usually acquire more than the furniture is books. It is quite difficult to give away books because both of us have our own collection.
When we made the next move, it was to another city and another state and so we had to get rid of quite a bit. This was going to be for four years, as it was for my husband’s studies. After 4 years my daughter, who was 2 years old when we left, was now 6 years and she watched me as I gave away all her baby clothes to one of our service staff who had just had a baby. My daughter wanted to keep only her pants, shirts and toy cars with the faith that she would get a baby brother. I agreed to this as she was more than generous with all her other clothes and toys. This taught her how to give away so that we can bring joy to people who needed them.
Our next move was to the UK, again for studies, where the college in the UK was providing us with a fully furnished house and we just needed clothes and food. The move from India was after 8 years and I am the sentimental kind who always holds on to some or the other memory. There were still some boxes unopened. My husband’s policy was if you have not opened the box and seen the need for it in the last 3-4 years, then it is something that you do not need. This seemed like a good policy to work with but it was quite painful for me to part with my books. But I am glad I was able to give away our precious books to the campus library, where they would be used by many.
When we were in the UK, we felt that whatever we gave away in India came back to us. After my husband finished his studies with the college that had given us the fully furnished house, we moved into a house which was completely empty. We told a few friends of ours and within a week, our house was flooded with extra furniture that people very generously gave for our use. We had so much that we had to tell them we had enough. When we were leaving the UK, we did the same and gave all our things to another African family who had just come to the UK. That is when I saw the wonderful power of giving that can start a ripple effect, at the same time, uncluttering our space.
In the college campus that we presently stay, and have lived in for 16 years, there is a day set aside once a year when everyone gives away used things. These are put up for sale where people from nearby villages come and buy these things for a rupee or two, just to give them some value. This has become a routine every January. The money raised through this sale is given to charity. Every time we buy new things, we looked for things to give away and put it in the giveaway box or basket for smaller things. Our daughter and son have also learnt this and throughout the year, we as a family, are looking for things that we can give away in January. This has taught our children generosity and not to hold on to things.
Instead of throwing things away, we have learnt as a family, if we give it away, we are filled with a joy, balance and freedom (as the ad promised) that hoarding and cluttering does not give. This helps our home looks clean and neat and gives us the satisfaction of spreading happiness.
If you find this useful in your home, spread it by starting an initiative in your flats or residential area, get together a few families and choose a project, collect used things and give it to people in need and watch how the love spreads, making this world a better place for our children.
As a popular song says:
“LOVE ISN’T LOVE TILL YOU GIVE IT AWAY WHY DON’T YOU GIVE SOME TODAY?”
The ripple effect you can create from one small gift is limitless.