“The best things in life aren’t things.” ― Art Buchwald
No one who knows me would by any stretch say I’m a minimalist. I grew up in a time and culture where it was important to have certain accoutrements of life in order to be considered successful. And for a long time I thought that when I got the car/dress/house/job/guy/whatever, then I would have somehow arrived. Problem is, eventually most of us do acquire those things, and realize that whatever “it” was, the newness eventually wears off. So maybe we decide to get a better car or job or whatever, and end up finding that, while these new things are nice or “better,” after a certain point we become used to them, too. Then what? The newness of new things tends to wear off over time, and we end up wanting something else.
Let’s face it, that culture still exists to a large degree. It’s all around us, and most of us have experienced it to some degree.
Fast forwarding to today, however, I find myself reading books such as Minimalism, (Joshua Fields Milburn, Ryan Nicodemus) and The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, (Marie Kondo.) I am not anywhere near mastering her t-shirt folding process for drawers but I like it a lot, because it seems so orderly and simple.
And that’s what I seem to crave these days – order and simplicity. It seems I’m not alone. Google the word “decluttering” and you’ll find a wealth of blogs, books, tips, checklists and more. The same with “organizing” or “minimalism,” the modern aesthetic of living with less.
Having lived in the same house for 25 years, though, I have increasingly been feeling less than organized and certainly not “minimalist.” The more stuff we have, the more time and energy it takes up in our lives just to take care of. I once had a teacher who used to say, “The outer is always a reflection of the inner.” When my home or office feels disorganized, it affects how I feel on the inside. Having a calm and orderly environment helps me to feel that way internally, and I have more time to spend on what’s important to me.
A basic concept in positive psychology is that a flourishing life is a meaningful life – one that encompasses having purpose, significance, fulfillment, and the use of our strengths in service to something larger, that people are happiest when they cultivate the best within them. Too much stuff clouds my perspective, and takes me away from those activities that are meaningful to me. Not to mention stresses me out.
So this is my plan. And I’m going to invite you, if you’re willing, to join me. In the next 7 days, I’m going to clear 100 items from my home and office. It doesn’t matter to me what the items are – it can be anything from a piece of clothing to an old file I no longer need, or a bottle of shampoo I don’t use. Old magazines, old chargers or cords that I don’t need, kitchen gadgets that I may use “someday” – out. I know almost all organizing and decluttering articles advise setting aside a day or at least an afternoon, and I’ve done this, too. This time I just want to go about my life and pay attention to what’s taking up space that I don’t need, or don’t use. And, instead of shoving it back in a drawer, pause and ask myself if I really need or want it. Is it something that adds to my life, or is it just taking up space. If it’s the latter, out it goes right then and there.
I have no plan beyond the next 7 days. If it goes well, I may go another 7 days. Or I may try something else. My goal is to start the process and build some momentum and energy around it. I’ll let you know how I did in my next update.
Meanwhile, how about you? Is this something you want to commit to start your process of decluttering and organization? Leave a below, send me an email, or post a response on my Facebook page. I’m counting on you to hold me accountable, and I’d love to do the same for you.
To less stuff and more life!