As we age, most of us strive to encircle ourselves with people who enrich our lives. These friends and family members are part of the pages of the story of our lives. They are part of many wonderful memories as they spur us to think, to laugh and to love. Most of us try to shed the friends and acquaintances who drag us down or question our joy. Shouldn’t the material possessions in our lives also bring us happiness and positive memories?


As a Downsizing Specialist, I encourage my clients to surround themselves with possessions that make them happy and keep them fulfilled. I suggest purging the items they have kept out of guilt or practicality. Look around your home office right now. I bet you will find a plastic Tupperware or two holding paperclips or rubber bands. Meanwhile, in your china cabinet hides some beautiful dishes you found on a trip to New Orleans twenty years ago. Those dishes can hold your paperclips and rubber bands beautifully and be a pleasant memory of a wonderful vacation. I often suggest using beloved items, like your grandmother’s china, for daily use. While the china may be slightly less practical, it will bring you joy every day.

Your closet may be filled with clothes that you wore 10 years and 10 pounds ago. Keeping those clothes will make you feel bad about yourself. No one needs a reminder about an extra 10 pounds. How about that orange sweater you bought two years ago that makes you feel like a pumpkin? You have kept it because it was expensive, but you don’t feel good when you wear it. Please give yourself permission to purge it. Donate it and let someone else look like a pumpkin!
Most of us have items we keep out of a sense of guilt. Gifts, family heirlooms, items that still work but we don’t use. If these possessions do not make you happy or otherwise enrich your life, take a picture of them for memory’s sake and let them go.

If you are downsizing, tackle one area of your home at a time and continue to pose the question to yourself “Does this item make me happy or enrich my life?” Give yourself permission to let go of the things that weigh you down. Taking this first, and most important, step will help you to downsize with joy.