One of the benefits of moving house is it gives you a good excuse to think about the stuff you’ve got in your life and whether or not they’re still necessary. My Haclediad co-host Sioned (who is bloody brilliant btw…), introduced me to a podcast series at The Minimalists, who in turn got me thinking about all the stuff I’d spent time and effort in lugging across London. In particular, something called the sunk cost fallacy…
The sunk cost fallacy has been used by economists and behavioral scientists to describe the phenomenon where people justify increased investment of money, time, lives, etc. in a decision, based on the cumulative prior investment (“sunk costs”), despite new evidence suggesting that the cost, beginning immediately, of continuing the decision outweighs the expected benefit [Wikipedia – Escalation of Commitment]
An alarmingly large amount of the stuff I’d moved from one place to the next were things that were either not being used or weren’t of any further use to me. Things I’d bought for a project I had intended to start, a book I’d intended to read but never got around to, or equipment that had long since outlasted its usefulness. We’d (yes, I had help to move – my folks are really helpful) expended a massive amount of effort to carefully pack each of these things, label the boxes, move them across town, then unpack it and find somewhere to store it until the next move.
These objects no longer provided the benefit I’d imagined, and were now a burden.
Books, DVDs, toys, magazines, beer-making kits, old electronics, old chargers for long-lost devices, trinkets from trips I’d hated for my old job. These things had now passed the point of adding value to my life, to a point where I was having to expend more effort to maintain them than what I felt they were worth to me. Letting go of them would mean they’d potentially find use elsewhere (charity shops etc), and I’d not have to worry about having to look after them.
An interesting thing happened when I started looking at what I was keeping. As the junk disappeared, the stuff that mattered to me became more obvious. My flat was easier to clean, and was now filled with stuff that made me happy, rather than a hoard of things I’d acquired to try and make myself happy.
I started thinking about how this would apply to some of the themes I’d explored in my previous blog posts. I’ve explored the idea that horrid internal monologue, and I’ve been practicing some meditation & mindfullness techniques to manage it. It occurred to me that some of these issues were an extension of the same cluttering problem in my home. I wondered if it was possible to declutter my mind and be able recognise when I’m dwelling on useless things at the expense of the things that can bring me joy?
In short, is happiness found in learning to let go? I don’t really know, but I’m really keen to find out.