It's Time to Keep Those Promises You've Made to Yourself
We live in a time when, with the click of a button, we can order whatever catches our fancy and have it delivered to our door by the next day – without even leaving the couch.
Unlike our ancient ancestors, gathering things requires almost no effort from us. We don't have to track, hunt, walk, run, pick, carry, or laboriously prepare anything in order to eat. We don't need skills of spinning, weaving, or sewing to acquire new clothes. We don't need to tell our own stories or sing our own songs – we can ask Siri or Alexa to play or stream whatever we like.
Here's our problem.
Our problem comes with using many of the things we accumulate. Let me ask you:
- Do you have any clothes in your closet with the tags still on?
- Do you have clothes in your closet you haven't worn for a year or more?
- Do you have china, glassware, or serving pieces you save only for a special occasion?
- Do you have small appliances or kitchen gadgets gathering dust at the back of a cupboard?
- Do you have alcohol you're saving for a celebration?
- Do you have unread books on your shelf or in a pile somewhere?
- Do you have unused beauty products?
- Do you have a candle that's never been lit?
- Do you have hobby tools or supplies that languish in a closet somewhere?
I'm going to bet (and I'm pretty sure I'll win) that you answered yes to at least one of those questions. I did.
Whether you eventually find that a clothing purchase no longer fits or has fallen out of fashion, discover that your expensive organic maple syrup has grown mold, or notice that the old armoire you stored in your garage has warped and cracked in the heat, these things you've kept because they're "still good" or even "special" have not just taken up room in your home. They haven't just been wasted.
They also indicate that you don't think you're good enough to use them.
After all, we have no problem cutting the tags off Old Navy tee shirts or pulling out the Ikea dinnerware. It's the good china, the gourmet condiments, and the heirloom necklaces that stay safely out of sight.
As soon as we elevate something into "too good for every day," it gets put away, waiting for the exceptional day to arrive. The day when we feel special enough to actually use that "too good" item.
What we're missing
When we shop, we're often looking for something we think is missing in our life. We convince ourselves (and advertising helps) that we could be "better" if only we owned certain items. We could be more stylish, beautiful, or smart if we bought certain things. We could indicate to the world how notable we are if we acquired the right belongings.
But something happens when we bring those things home. They become promises for the future. "When such and such happens, I'll wear that." "When so and so arrives, I'll use that."
And then that special someday never comes.
Just to be clear, I'm not advocating that you empty your bank account, go on a luxury vacation, or buy that hand built sports car you've always dreamed about. I'm simply suggesting that you should use those special things you own, or pass them on to someone who will.
Put aside the excuses, and find joy and freedom today. You are worth it.
More to life
You're probably right – but I also think we need to stop making all of those promises for the future and get around to doing something today. Whatever you've been promising yourself for "someday," I challenge you to do something about it this week.
And whichever item you answered yes to earlier, please use it within the next week. Set the nice table, light the fancy candles, and pull out your Maldon salt and hot honey.* Cut the tags off that jacket, start reading that book, and pick up your knitting.
* This blog is reader-supported. If you buy through my links, I may earn a small commission.
And if you decide those things or activities just aren't right for you anymore, then please give the stuff away. Make room and time in your life for things that you will love and use.
Stop gathering things. Stop just being a collector, and stop letting life slip by. You've promised yourself something special, and it's time to keep your promise.
Coming next Thursday: The Problem with Saying Yes when We Should Say No