When I was growing up, I had several friends whose houses included a formal living room that (at least as far as I could see) was never used. I would pass these pristine rooms with their fancy furniture and think to myself that it was such a waste of space.
Looking back from the giddy heights of adulthood and parental experience, I understand why parents might want to preserve silk cushions, antique walnut, and polished marble from the depredations of toddlers and muddy pets. However, I still believe those formal rooms represent a wasteful way of thinking about our stuff.If our stuff sits around unused because it’s “too special” then it’s little more than clutter. Click To Tweet
Did that catch your attention?
Good. Now let me explain.
Most of us divide our stuff into categories. We have “everyday” stuff and “special” stuff. Nothing wrong with that—unless the stuff in the “special” category never gets used.
If we own things are truly precious to us, shouldn’t we take pleasure in using them? Here are four thoughts to help you make better use of those special things that should be too precious to waste.
We should all have a few nice things that we keep for celebrating special occasions. The problem is, sometimes we reserve them for an occasion so special it never comes. If you haven’t used your good china, or that crystal vase in over a year, rethink your definition of what constitutes a special occasion. Look for excuses to enjoy your really nice stuff instead of hoarding it in the back of the china cupboard. Celebrate your anniversary in style. Enjoy a fancy tea party with your granddaughter. Or simply fill that crystal vase with wildflowers and put a smile on your face every time you walk past it. Just because.
Remember you can’t take it with you
Which is of more value in life, to keep our stuff in pristine condition, or to gain enjoyment by using it? Don’t let fear of a little wear and tear prevent you from using your stuff. You are not running a museum or an art gallery. You are not tasked with keeping it in “like-new” condition so your kids can sell it on e-Bay after you die. Give yourself permission to risk a few stains and scratches. Remember that people are more important than stuff (even the ones who put their feet on the furniture) and refuse to let fear of damaging something color every interaction with guests. Generosity includes the willingness to allow our stuff to used, even when it may result in accidental damage. (Within reason, of course.)
I have a shelf unit in the guest bedroom that began life as the base of a changing table. In between it was used as TV shelf and a media storage unit. A new location, a fresh coat of paint, and the thing has served many purposes as our needs have changed. What do you have sitting around that could be put to better use? Think outside the box and repurpose them. Family heirlooms can become unique objets d’art when hung on a wall. An unused end table might serve as a night stand in the guest room, or an unusual vase could be turned into the base for a lamp.
Reject the guilt
Sometimes I buy things for a rainy day. A new toy for the kids, a T-shirt that would make a good gift, a few frozen meals for those days I don’t have time to cook. Problem is, I can then feel guilty when I decide to use them. Silly, I know, but I had to retrain my thinking to convince myself I actually bought those “rainy day” items with the intention of using them up. (Preferably before freezer burn turns it inedible or the kids grow too old to enjoy it.)
Perhaps you have a similar hang-up? If so, jettison the guilt and use the stuff anytime it might bring joy, or ease the stress of a busy day.
I hope these thoughts will empower you to be more intentional about using the wonderful things you own to bring enjoyment to you and your loved ones.