Is sentiment good or bad?
It can be a good thing for the creative person who writes, makes music, or does art. If you can show your feelings or emotions, you can be a good communicator.
It can be a bad thing if it discolors reality. It can glorify the past and keep a person from enjoying the now. It can lead to holding on to every item that at one time gave you joy or hope.
When talking with clients about why they keep things, I often hear them say, “Oh, I’m a sentimental person.” In their mind they keep things because of the importance those items had in their life or in their family. They may feel that they are the “keeper” of the family history. They see the beauty in things that other people don’t.
These people are not only sentimental about the past but about things going on right now. They are the ones who love the sunsets or cry over a dead bird. Their feelings are closer to the surface. They are the ones we call when we need a good listener or a hug.
I looked up the definition of sentiment and found that it means:
1. A view or attitude about a situation or event – a feeling or an emotion
2. Exaggerated and self-indulgent feelings of tenderness, sadness, or nostalgia
I don’t consider myself sentimental, but I enjoy reminiscing about the past. It’s fun to look at old pictures and remember past events. I think it’s wonderful to see baby pictures where the baby is wearing a Christening outfit or hat that has been in the family for years. Looking through a family Bible that has the family tree written in the front and handwritten notes from your ancestors is uplifting.
However, I don’t feel it is a good thing to sit and long for a previous time. The “good old days” were usually not as good as we remember with our “looking back” glasses.
The minimalists, Joshua Milburn and Ryan Nicodemus have some quotes about keeping things from our personal past that are worth reviewing:
“If we cling to the past, we get dragged from the present.” —Joshua Fields Millburn
“We are defined by our character, not by our things.” —Ryan Nicodemus
Emmet Fox, a new thought spiritual leader of the 20th Century states in his essay Sentiment Slays, “Sentiment is usually a short cut to unhappiness and failure…..Sentiment really means pretending.”
Keeping some items to remember a special time or person may be sentimental but I don’t see it as a bad thing. However, keeping everything and not making the distinction between a Christening bonnet and a drawer full of stained onesies is not helping a person stay happy.
It's fine to remember the past because our past has molded us and brought us to where we are now. Make note of what you have learned from your past but don’t continue to live there out of sentimentality.
Know why you are keeping items. It’s easy to fall into memorabilia overwhelm.
I don’t want to make a decision about the topic of sentimentality and is it good or bad. I don’t see it as a yes or no response. Each person is an individual. I don’t like making sweeping statements about people or passing judgement on what they do with their life.
I do feel that it is important to live in the present but that living in the now does not mean to forget our past or not to plan for our future.
Just don't let the past keep you from enjoying today at its fullest!
I would love to hear what you think about this topic.
If you want help or just some accountability in setting up or working on an organizational plan or project, join Diane Quintana and me on our Clear Space For You clutter support group. We can help you map out your plan step by step.
Jonda S. Beattie, Professional Organizer owner of Time Space Organization, and co-owner of Release, Repurpose, Reorganize. She is based in the Metro-Atlanta area. As presenter, award-winning author, as well as a retired special education teacher she uses her listening skills, problem solving skills, knowledge of different learning techniques, ADHD specialty, and paper management skills to help clients tackle the toughest organizational issues. Jonda does hands on organizing and virtual organizing. For more of Jonda’s tips connect with her on Facebook.