Spring-Cleaning 101: Here's How to Stop Feeling So Attached to Your Stuff

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Since moving across the country with only two suitcases two years ago, I've fancied myself as something of a minimalist—an idealistic thought that was swiftly dismantled when I moved apartments last weekend. As I packed up my life for the first time since landing in L.A., I was truly astonished by how much stuff I had managed to accumulate in my tiny studio apartment in a relatively short amount of time. And while I welcomed this opportunity for some early and aggressive spring-cleaning, I still found myself feeling conflicted as I sorted through my things.

Of course, moving does offer some additional motivation to purge your life that regular spring-cleaning lacks: There's nothing like the prospect of lugging dozens of heavy boxes to a new space to make you reevaluate your hoarding tendencies. But in reality, we could probably all stand to consider the items we choose to surround ourselves with—especially since it's human nature to feel an emotional connection to them.

And therein lies the problem. "Holding deep attachments to physical items closes the door to fully experience the present moment," says Lili Pettit, organization expert and founder of Clutter Healing. "When we are hyper-focused on sentimental items or things in general, we miss out on the human experience." If we don't address it, it gives way to a vicious cycle: We seek fulfillment by surrounding ourselves with things instead of throwing ourselves into experiences, and by default, we can never feel present or satisfied. Then, when the stuff inevitability piles up, we feel even more distraught when we need to get rid of it to make space… for more stuff.

Still, the prospect of decluttering your life once and for all—and shifting your perspective so you no longer accumulate the clutter in the first place—is definitely intimidating. That's why we asked two clutter experts for their pointers on breaking the pattern once and for all.