How to throw things away

According to Chinese medicine, autumn is the perfect time to spring clean. By getting rid of everything we no longer need, we give ourselves space to recuperate over winter – enabling the slow coalescence of our strength in preparation for spring’s rocketing growth. Letting go in autumn is vital to our success in spring.

Autumn is the time to let go of physical, mental and emotional waste. Wonderfully, the connectedness of all things means that we don’t have to approach these types of waste separately. By letting go of the possessions we no longer need, we allow the emotions that cling to them to pass from our lives. Light and air fill the space our possessions once occupied, liberating mental space and producing the restorative peace of simplicity.

Marie Kondo has perfected the art of discarding. She describes the process in her book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, which is where the inspiration for these tips comes from…

1. Decide what you want to keep and discard everything else

Marie suggests confronting each possession you own from paper clips to your wedding ring, and asking yourself “does this spark joy”. If the answer is “no”, she recommends discarding it. There will be some exceptions (like your driver’s licence) but these items are few and far between. In the end, you will be surrounded only by objects that spark joy in your heart. What a wonderful way to live!

2. Recognise that holding onto things is wasteful

We often resist throwing things away because it feels wasteful. We make every excuse to avoid discarding them: “it might come in useful one day”, “I only bought it last week”, “I don’t want it but it was a gift”. When an object is not actively serving its purpose by sparking joy or fulfilling a genuine practical function, it has already been wasted – whether it is in your cupboard or in the bin. Donating these objects to a charity shop or putting them on Freecycle makes them useful again. Letting them languish in your home is wasteful.

3. Respect the things you throw away

This sounds incongruous. Surely discarding something is a sign that it is no longer valued? On the contrary! If you were in a situation where you could no longer be useful or loved, wouldn’t you crave release? So, say to each object as you let it go “thank you for your service and good luck on your journey!” Like a graduation ceremony, letting go is a joyful event!

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