Having things can help to solidify our identity. When we surround ourselves with possessions we love and ones that represent the things we love, it can serve to remind us of who we are.
When you get up in the morning and see the possessions that represent your values or interests, you don’t have to go through the exercise of recalling what your identity is, and it won’t change over time.
Seeing your running shoes reminds you of your new year’s resolution to run more. “Oh yes, that’s right. I’m a runner now.”
Your yoga mat coaxes you to broaden your practice or relax a little bit. The LSAT study manuals next to your bed remind you why you didn’t go out last night. The travel photos remind you why you’re saving up.
I wake up almost every morning to the realization that my dog has sauntered around to my side of the bed and is staring at me. The first thing I do after I get up is feed him, and that reminds me that he’s one of the most important things in my personal life.
When you surround yourself with everything, though, it confuses the psyche. If you toss your heels and party dress on top of your running shoes, you’re going to spend the next morning untangling everything and putting it away, postponing the run until later. The effectiveness of using things to represent and remind significantly decreases when you start to surround yourself with too much. It muddles the identity.
On the other hand, when you streamline the items with which you surround yourself and protect yourself from being bombarded by too many messages, you grant yourself advantage of using your possessions and space to effectively define who you are, and wake up each morning with the strength of that reminder.