June 23rd, 2024

All Psyched Up: Stuff

By Linda Hancock on June 8, 2024.

We live in a diverse world where there are many different perspectives. Some people are classed as hoarders while others are called minimalists. Then there are the preppers who feel the need to have enough supplies to fight off any emergency that “might” occur. Most of us, however, don’t fit into any of these categories. We just have too much “stuff.”

I remember George Carlin, a popular comedian during my adolescent years, who had a hilarious routine called “Stuff”. In it he made fun of the fact that people not only had too much stuff but also had problems deciding where to store it and what to take with them when they go on holidays.

It would be nice if we could all be like Goldilocks who fit perfectly into baby bear’s bed and chair stating things are “just right”. We might try to kid ourselves that our surroundings are “just right”, and we have exactly what we need. Not true. Just think about your “junk drawer” or drawers. It won’t take long for you to realize that you have too much stuff.

If you have ever had to serve as Power of Attorney or Executor of an estate, you would have quickly developed an awareness of the fact that the person who left you also left a great deal of “stuff” that you had to sort and distribute.

Before you leave a similar situation for others who will have to invest time and money to disperse your belongings, here are some things to ponder:

1. Attachment – Other people might not have the same emotional attachment to things that you have. The pressed corsage and ticket stubs from your first date will likely end up in the trash without much thought from those doing the sorting. I remember when my younger son and I were going through some of my stored boxes. He was shocked to find an envelope with the words “Mark’s first haircut.”

That day I managed to make a pile of treasures for him that included the plastic ring from his circumcision, several elementary school assignments he had done and yes, the hair that had been saved for more than four decades. He didn’t seem nearly as emotionally attached as I had been to these items, so I gave them to him with the request that he never, ever tell me what he did with them.

2. Habit – It is easy to just keep adding items to the closet without actually getting rid of anything. You don’t have to worry about being ready for George Clooney who you hope will be coming to take you out for a fancy date. He’s married now so you really don’t need to keep the frilly ball gown anymore. Time to start going through the dozens of pairs of shoes, shirts, and scarves.

A good rule is that if you haven’t worn it in a year, you probably won’t wear it again. Be ruthless! Keep what fits without having several sizes that will allow you to go up and down on the scale. If it fits well, is clean and makes you look great then it belongs in your wardrobe. Otherwise, let someone else enjoy it.

3. Hobbies – When was the last time that you went camping? Do you really need that many tools in your garage? Do you plan to put those plastic models together or are you just kidding yourself about it? Try thinking this way: “Use it or lose it”. When you get honest about what you have and what you need then you are truly honest. And you might find that someone else will be thankful that you gave your extra “stuff” to them.

4. Fear – Don’t worry. Canada Revenue is not going to come back at you for reassessment after seven years have passed. Neither will the utilities or credit card companies! A shredder will do wonders when it comes to cleaning up the documentation. Oh, and you likely don’t need the newspapers, books or magazines that you have piled up. Read them (once) and get rid of them!

5. Valuables – Most of your family will not know that you kept that glass dish because it came across the ocean with your great-grandmother. Sadly, it will likely show up at a garage sale for fifty cents unless you do something about this now. Make a written list of the items that you want to be passed down through the generations and the reason why you think this is important. Better yet, why not give them to your children or grandchildren while you are alive so that you can enjoy their reaction to this kindness?

6. Estate – Everything will be so much easier if you have made decisions and arrangements to help your family after you have passed. I purchased a binder with dividers that holds all the important papers that will be needed once I am gone. In it is my Last Will and Testament, organ donation paperwork, funeral plan, jewelry appraisals and list of financial organizations that will need to be contacted. Each province has a wonderful non-profit Memorial Society where a small one-time membership results in thousands of savings for cremation and/or burial. Not having a will is just asking for trouble! You make the choices, so they don’t have to do that.

I am not trying to tell you what to do. Just trying to get you to think about what you do and why you are doing it (or not doing it). Might lead to positive change for you and your loved ones!

Dr. Linda Hancock, the author of “Life is An Adventure…every step of the way” and “Open for Business Success” is a Registered Psychologist who has a private practice in Medicine Hat. She can be reached at 403-529-6877 or through email office@drlindahancock.com

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