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Get rid of that Extra box

  • Alok 

Sort out your Room to Sort your Life

अपना ग़म लेकर कहीं और ना ज़ाया जाये
घर में बिखरी हुई चीजों को सजाया जाये

These lines from a famous gazal of Late. Mr. Jagjit Singh beautifully tells a small story. Ghazals connect with us when we start understanding the stories hidden inside them. When these stories connect with our own, we start loving that Gazal. This one quote says that there is no need to run away from sorrow, just sort out the things in the house and you will find happiness there. If you are seeking some peace of mind, read on.

I used to wonder how sorting out your place can be connected to happiness. It took me a while to realize that this is true. My mother is the most organized person I have met so far. For her, cleanliness in the house and being sorted is like a second religion. We used to feel annoyed by her obsession with cleanliness and putting things in the right place in our childhood. As most of the kids would do, I just picked a few good habits from her.

So when I started living alone in another town, soon I faced this reality. Slowly the things in the house started growing and taking space. All that mindless shopping from the departmental store started taking a toll at my place.

What I did next is another mistake we often do. I started feeling that I need a bigger apartment. So I moved to a bigger one and then to another and on and on

Yes, we get the flexibility to move to a place of choice when we live on rent. But what is the whole point? Most of us have an extra room to keep the extra stuff!


The question is that do we need it? I have learned this with my life experiences and here I am sharing some things that can work.

What’s in the box?

I first heard this line in a Ted talk by Graham Hill,  when I started my quest for a minimalistic lifestyle. Sharing a little self-talk we all can have 😀

  • What’s in the box?
  • I don’t remember clearly
  • I guess I don’t know
  • But it must be something important.
  • That’s why it is traveling with me from apartment to apartment from the last few years.
sort your life

Do you have a box like this? Do you have a section in the room in our house that has something that you don’t remember?
If this sounds familiar and if you have that box – it’s time to bring some order in life.

Let’s call this the “Extra Box”. Finding this box or the stuff that belongs to this box is simple. Anything in your house that you have not used from the last 6 months may belongs to this box. 

Now don’t say my partner belong to this category, can I put him in it 😂. I am talking about non-living things only 😅

Once you find the box, let it go!

We are temporary 

We all know that we are mortals and we have to go. But we don’t act in a way that resonates with this reality. We mostly behave as we are here forever. This can be an awesome wish, but it cannot be the reality. We need to understand the psychology behind the habit of gathering things and creating this pile at home. 

We all started as hunters and gatherers, some of us have just not stopped gahtering!

Firstly we normally don’t think that what will happen to all this stuff when I am not around. We don’t realize that all the stuff I am holding on so tightly can be a headache for somebody after me. We don’t realize that my favorite dress that doesn’t fit anymore may get thrown in the trash by someone later. Why don’t I do something about it consciously? What about giving it to somebody who can use it?

Our association of emotions with our possessions is the biggest hindrance in letting things go. 

Oh, this is my wedding dress…
I will never wear it again
But how can I let it go? It is so important to me.

Does this sound familiar?

Keeping something like this only makes sense if a museum will take it from you later or you are planning to open your museum in some time.

Truth is that we make a museum of our house with old and useless stuff. And nobody is coming to watch this personal museum anytime soon.

Covid-19 has given us a realization of how temporary we are. So many people we know, left this world and none of them took any stuff they kept for years.

The Whitewash Method

This method is ideal for those who know that they have a lot of extra stuff. Those who know that there is that “Extra box” somewhere in the room. They just can’t find it out. It’s not getting sorted no matter what you do. If you are one of them, read on. 

I have spent my childhood in the railway quarters in Varanasi. Most of the maintenance at our place was taken care of by railways. This included whitewash. So every year before the Diwali festival, our quarter used to get a complimentary whitewash. We used to clear the whole room to get it whitewashed and every year we used to discover something hidden in the room.

So I have created this method to find that hidden “Extra box”. COVID19 has given us more reason to stay in the house and it’s a great opportunity to use this fix.

The method is simple, assign a day or two on a weekend.

Share your plan with others in the house and office, So that they know that you will be a little messed up.

Take out all the stuff from a room… I mean everything except heavy furniture
Place all the room content on a floor or open space.

Then re-arrange and get similar things together, so that you can find some duplicity.
It’s recommended to keep a box or a bag ready to be filled. This will be your “extra box.”

You will be surprised to see how quickly this box fills up.
If your box is not getting filled up with this method, read on

Breathe Out Breathe in

Our body is one of the biggest miracles we have witnessed. There is a lot to learn from your own body.

We can control most of what we do, but the most critical functions of our body are controlled by the subconscious mind.

We may be full of all the stupid things we did, but have you noticed our subconscious mind making mistakes?

Like forgetting to pump the heart of 10 mins 💔

Or keeping your eyes open while you sleep in the night 👀

Or sneezing out of the ears

Ok, let’s stop that imagination 😂 

Truth is, it does not. The subconscious mind is quite idiot-proof

It will exhale all the bad air from our body and inhale only oxygen that is essential for our existence

Likewise, when we exhale all the material of the room, we don’t breathe in the bad air. Just take in the essential oxygen. Take in the material that you will use. 

This thinking helps in choosing wisely. 

If we use this trick with eating, it can get us fitter and lighter very quickly. Imagine, if we only accept what is essential and keep all the garbage out of our mouth. Well that is the topic for another blog.

Let it go to create happiness

The most difficult items to leave are those that have a deep emotional connection with us. Things that are related to an important occasion or gifts. This is where we need to understand the perspective of utility and purpose. 

Yes, you have kept it with you for years.

But you have not used it as well. 

It’s just a part of your museum.

Yes, you are afraid of that what will happen to all this important stuff after you are gone.

If these things appear in your mind and you don’t want to sell these things, which truly belong to the ”Extra box”

Give is to someone who needs it. A simple act of donation can be extremely fulfilling.

Pastor Sunday Adelaja says 

“Your purpose is more than just being happy, but it’s about making others blessed and happy.” in his book “The Mountain of Ignorance”

There may be a close-to-heart shoe in your shoe-rack that you don’t use often. But there may be someone out there who is walking barefoot in the cold.

We can let it go to create true happiness for ourselves and others around us.

Get rid of that box!

I would be keen to know if you have found that box in your house and what you have done with it. Do share in the comments.

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