Valentine heart made of rose petals with hands holding phone nearby

Get ready, February 14, is the globally popular holiday, Valentine’s Day.

Valentine’s Day celebrates romantic and passionate love, one of the six forms of love identified by the Greeks.

They called this romantic kind of love “Eros” although we’re also familiar with the Roman name for Eros: Cupid.

The Greeks warned that this kind of love is double-edged.

While falling “madly in love” can be very seductive, we also need to guard against getting lost in it.

Mindfulness and balance are required to counter the “insanity” that comes up when we fall madly in love.

Mindfulness and balance are also important to practice in our relationships with stuff.

We need to remember that stuff is inanimate.

We often say, “I love my espresso maker!” or “I love my new shoes!” but stuff doesn’t reciprocate our affection.

Your new shoes are not sitting in the closet right now talking to the other shoes expressing their desire to be worn by you.

I consistently point to “the stuff behind the stuff” or the story as the cause of so much pain and that feeling of being “stuck” to things.

This casual tossing around of words like love when applied to objects rather than people often leads to confusion, overwhelm and immobility when addressing disorganization.

A broken tea cup is just that—a tea cup that no longer serves as a useful vessel.

Add in the story and suddenly you’re not letting go of a broken object, you’re letting go of a good friend.

You can see where this leads.

You may try to distance yourself from owning this by saying, “I didn’t really mean it,” but there is a kernel of truth in every statement.

Rather than becoming defensive when this misplaced intimacy is called out, perhaps a better choice would be to reflect on how serious or aware you were when you said it.

And of course, the goal of this exploration isn’t meant to shame you but to encourage you to examine how present you are to the choices you’re making each moment, even about the language you use to describe the objects that surround you.

It will be that much harder to release things if you are bound up in the story of them.

No one wants to send their grandmother to the thrift store or set a childhood friend out with the trash.

This awareness and the adjustment that follows frees you up to let go of things you’re finished with and shift your focus and intention back towards creating intimacy with people.

People, unlike stuff, can be difficult.

At times they are demanding, inconsistent, unpredictable, irrational, self-involved and even selfish. Your espresso maker is never selfish.

People can also be kind, generous, compassionate, selfless, vulnerable, reliable, dependable and loyal.

So the next time you want to shout out, “I love my ____________,” pause and reflect for just a moment on what you’re really saying.

See if you can rephrase that into, “my ___________ makes my life more comfortable, convenient, or beautiful and for that I’m grateful.”

Then you can give your love to someone who can return it.

We all deserve that.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Today’s Action: Bring your awareness to the way you talk about the things that surround you. Are you attaching too much meaning or affection to objects that can’t reciprocate?

Choose to recognize the usefulness of the things in your life and redirect your love for the inanimate to the people in your life. Tell at least one person today what they mean to you.

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About The Author

Andrew Mellen's picture

Andrew Mellen is an organizational expert, public speaker, and the #1 best-selling author of Unstuff Your Life!

Andrew has helped tens of thousands of people worldwide to declutter and simplify their lives while regaining time for the things that matter.

A sought-after authority on organizing and productivity, Andrew's addressed audiences from The Great British Business Show to TEDx. 

Corporate clients include American Express, Genentech, NetApp, Time, Inc., and the US Depts. of Education and Homeland Security.

The media has dubbed Andrew “The Most Organized Man in America.” He writes a featured column called “Ask The Organizer” in Real Simple. In addition, he has written for and/or appeared in: The Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, Oprah Magazine, America Now, The Lisa Oz Show, The Nate Berkus Show, Oprah & Friends, Martha Stewart Living Today, ABC, NBC, CBS, CW11, HGTV, DIY Network, LiveWell Network, KnowMoreTV, Better Homes & Gardens, Ladies' Home Journal, Woman's Day, Family Circle, USA Today, GQ, InStyle, All You, Tricycle: The Buddhist Review, Healthy UK, American Way, numerous trade and travel publications, and NPR.

He leads workshops and speaks internationally while maintaining a private practice working with clients ranging from Fortune 100 companies, trade associations, and non-profits to CEOs, award-winning filmmakers, and authors, as well as overwhelmed parents everywhere. 

In 2013, Andrew founded Unstuff U®, the world's first completely virtual personal organization training center, offering classes, workshops, and other online resources for businesses and individuals. 

Andrew is a member of the Experts Collective and serves on the faculty of the New York Open Center in New York City. He speaks frequently on the intersection of spirituality and organization at places including Omega Institute, San Francisco Zen Center, Tassajara, All Saints Church, JCC Manhattan, and the Center for Spiritual Enlightenment, among others.

Previously, Andrew was an award-winning playwright, actor, producer, and director and the former Artistic Director of Alice B. Theater (Seattle), DC Arts Center (Washington, DC), and Shuttle Theater Company (New York). He is a contributing author to Yes Is the Answer: (And Other Prog-Rock Tales).

Andrew lives by his motto: More Love, Less Stuff!® 

Find him on the web at andrewmellen.com.

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