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Blog: Can We Have Some Order Here?
The A-To-Z Of Getting Organized: B Is For Beneficence

Have you ever attempted to clean out a bunch of clutter you didn't really need -- but couldn't talk yourself into letting any of it go because it seemed like such a waste? I mean, you spent good money for this junk! And now you're supposed to just give it away? Where's the logic in that??

Charitable Donations -- A Win-Win

The act of cleaning out is a hard one for many people, because it's often accompanied by so many unpleasant emotions. Clutter makes us feel bad about ourselves, our past mistakes, our lost opportunities. "Oh look, here's an outfit I bought years ago -- it still has the tags on it, and now it doesn't even fit anymore. How stupid and wasteful of me -- well, maybe I can fit back into it again someday. Uggh, there's that ugly lamp Aunt Martha gave us for our wedding -- I only put it out when she came to visit so she wouldn't make me feel guilty. Now she's dead and I was so unappreciative. And I got those art supplies back when I thought I might finally follow my dream and become a painter. I know I haven't touched them in years, but I can't just toss out all that equipment -- it cost a fortune!"

The problem here is one of perspective. Focusing on negative emotions like guilt and worry makes it that much harder to clean out (I mean honestly, how can you enjoy the decluttering process when you're being haunted by hang-ups and demons?) While it's certainly important to work through the pain of parting with your belongings, spending all your time dwelling regret is an exercise in futility. Keeping something you no longer need will not rectify a previous lapse in judgment. Refusing to get rid of an item because it was "expensive" doesn't get you the money back. And no amount of clutter is going to suddenly make you pick up a hobby you abandoned two decades ago. You have to reach an understanding that the opportunity cost of keeping all this junk is greater than if you let it go -- and the best way to do that is to shift your focus. To paraphrase Johnny Mercer, when you ac-cent-tchu-ate the positive, it's easier to e-lim-i-nate the negative!

Freeing yourself from clutter is supposed to be a positive experience -- so why not view your actions in terms of the good you're doing for your fellow (wo)man? Instead of lamenting all that is lost, tell yourself that you're functioning from a position of beneficence and generosity toward the world around you. Merriam Webster's definition of beneficence is "doing or producing good, performing acts of kindness or charity." A better way to view cleaning out is to recognize that you've been blessed with material abundance (quite possibly excessively blessed!) -- you are fortunate enough to have more than you need, and you enjoy the privilege of being able to share your bounty with others. Every time you pass something on (by giving it to a friend, sharing it with a family member, or donating it to your favorite non-profit organization), you're spreading a little good will. Each time you start to feel a twinge of shame or unhappiness while cleaning out, remember that those things which no longer serve any purpose in your life might very well make another person's day.

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posted on: 9/6/2012 11:30:00 AM by Ramona Creel
category: General Organizing Tips

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Can We Have Some Order Here?

by Ramona Creel

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About Ramona:

I have been a Professional Organizer for more than 10 years, I am a NAPO Golden Circle member, and I was the original founder of OnlineOrganizing. I have worked one-on-one with scores of clients and have trained dozens of newbie organizers as they got started in the industry. I provide both hands-on and virtual coaching to help clients improve their organizing skills and simplify their lives. I invite you to visit my website at http://www.RamonaCreel.com, and I challenge you to find one new idea that you can put into practice in your life, to help you become better organized, starting TODAY! I am passionate about coaching folks toward a more balanced, productive, and enjoyable life -- and I firmly believe that if I can do it, so can you!

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