9. It’s time to stop using your parents’ home for storage.

Items of sentimental value are the hardest to let go. Early on in the tidiness consultation business, the KonMari Method allowed participants to store their mementos in their parents’ house. The majority of clients were single or stay-at-home moms, and when they’d ask if they could send stuff to their parents’, the author would allow it, viewing the option as an aid to the process of tidying up. The author now views that option as a hindrance to the tidiness mindset.

Experience in the business has revealed that those boxes sent to the parents are never opened again. It is enabling more than empowering.

We are to live in the present, not in the past. Sorting through sentimental items—taking each one in hand and deciding what to keep and what to discard—is a way of revisiting the past without living there.

By hanging on to photos and letters from old boyfriends or clothes that belong to a deceased loved one for too long, you may limit your capacity and opportunities for receiving future joy.

Of all the sentimental items you have, photos should be saved for last. If your ability to detect a spark of joy is still underdeveloped, you will get lost in the world of the past. Getting stuck in the past will arrest the tidying up process. If you’ve followed the suggested order of clothes, books, papers, and komono, sentimental items will be much easier.

Remove all photos from albums and frames. Look at them one by one. You will be surprised how quickly you can tell which ones touch the heart and which ones don’t. Try limiting yourself to five photos per day of a trip. Nondescript photos of scenery have to go. This might sound stringent, but you will be able to fill in the gaps when you see the photos of that time.   

Participants often report tremendous freedom when they relinquish extraneous stuff. If they were true treasures—the kind that spark joy—they wouldn’t be packed up in boxes in another house, never to be looked at again. Our homes should be for the people we are becoming, and the few joy-filled mementos we keep should be an aid in that journey onward.

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