The Spring Cleaning
Letting go of something we have feels costly. After all, how could we abandon it, following the investment of so much time, money, and perhaps real sweat and tears?
However, one of the keys to our well-being is growth. To grow, we often have to let go of something. We have to make an exchange.
In that regard, the game seems to be rigged against us. As the concept of the sunk loss fallacy explains, our decisions are contaminated by the emotional investments we accumulate and the more we invest in something, the harder it becomes to leave it. Behavioral economist Dan Ariely reminds us that the “pain of paying,” as he puts it, arises whenever we must give up anything we own. We feel the pain no matter what price we must pay, and it will influence our decisions and behaviors.
It’s no wonder then, metaphorically speaking, that besides the luggage we truly need for the current leg of our life’s journey, we carry an additional load everywhere we go. And on top of that, our shelves are packed-full with souvenirs. Some dear to our heart, most of them mere junk.
With our bias to hold on to things, we are admittedly grasping that which does not work anymore. More dangerously, there are probably things which lurk at the bottom of our suitcase, or on a dusty part of the shelf, waiting to harm us. With our massive luggage and shelves with no breathing space, we are undermining our journey forward.
Therefore, it seems to me that every once in a while, we might want to take the time to identify and re-evaluate our relationships, our aims, sift throughout the luggage, look for the items which don’t serve us in the long-term.
We might uncover a toxic relationship, a behavior we learned as a child who didn’t have the tools to cope with the harsh reality of the adult world, an act of benevolent censorship which grew into a full-fledged resentment, or literally a closet stuffed with clothes we never wear.
It might be a good time to perform some spring cleaning, equally examining our luggage, our shelves and ourselves.
Images used for the collage: Flowers, Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, [reproduction number, e.g., LC-USZ62-123456]; Cheney Silk Mills. Favorable working conditions, Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, National Child Labor Committee Collection, [reproduction number, e.g., LC-USZ62-108765]