It’s so easy to get caught up in the rat race of day to day life. The more we work, the more we buy- and sometimes it feels like there is never enough time or money to do anything else.
The interesting thing is that regardless of how much we have or how much we buy, we still don’t feel like we have enough. You open up your closet to rows of clothes and still think, I have nothing to wear. Or you go to a friend’s house for dinner and they rave about their new home system that has every imaginable bell and whistle and you think, Wow, I have been living in the dark ages. I need a system that automatically turns on our lights, maintains a stable heat and preheats the oven at a specific time. Never mind that for your entire life you have managed to do these things yourself and your quality of life hasn’t suffered one bit. But now, it feels as if-you must have that home system to survive and thrive!
It’s absolutely maddening, yet we still do it! Like a nonstop hamster wheel of work, we buy stuff accumulating more and more things and then we spend time having to take care of the stuff we buy. Only in time, to feel like we need more stuff, so must work harder to purchase said stuff, and then spend our time-taking care of it.
Yet, study after study have shown that true happiness in life, comes from clarity. Too much stuff in your physical environment threatens clarity causing confusion, frustration, overwhelm and procrastination- often keeping you from focusing on the things you want to do that bring you true happiness.
There’s a famous quote by Chuck Palahniuk writer of Fight Club, “The things you own end up owning you. It’s only after you lose everything that you’re free to do anything.”
I started out on a journey to tease out the fog that was keeping me from mental clarity, spaciousness, and peace in my day to day life and found that it is possible to achieve all of the above, through simply clearing out the things in my life that no longer benefitted or served who I was becoming.
A Search for Clarity Starts with Minimalism or What Brings You Joy
When I think of minimalism I think of white walls, sparse furniture, and an overall lack of warmth. Yet, in my research I found that minimalism isn’t just about living with less stuff; it’s a mindset that helps you focus on what matters most and letting go of what doesn’t. Add to that, only keeping things that bring you joy. Remember the Marie Kondo craze from a few years back?
In focusing on what brings you joy, you can use the ideals of minimalism to achieve peace in your physical environment.
Minimalists can be found around the world: from CEOs to stay at home moms, they all have one thing in common: they’re focused on living life intentionally and with purpose.
This focus on living life intentionally and with purpose is at the heart of what I want from my life and the life of my clients. It’s more than just living with less stuff. It’s living with the stuff that brings you joy and letting the rest go. Giving yourself the needed space and energy to embrace your passions, relationships and experiences by creating a lifestyle that’s free of clutter-focusing on what matters most to you.
Having less stuff won’t make you less fun or boring, it will just give you needed space to simply choose to spend time doing activities that bring real value to your life. So how do you do this?
Declutter Your Physical Environment
The less stuff you have, the easier it is for you to find what you are looking for, that everything they have in your life brings you joy and has a purpose, and you can then spend their time doing things they enjoy instead of focusing on the need for more.
I’m not saying you need to live in a world of white walls and sparse furniture- but if your days are filled with stress because you can’t find anything or clean up has become overwhelming, then decluttering your environment will help tremendously.
This could be a process where each day you do a different area of your home or perhaps you take a full weekend and move through each room. It all depends on your time frame and how you work best.
I work best by doing things one step at a time so I chose to focus on one area of my home each day.
The first day I started with my closet. The next day I focused on all of the paperwork that I’ve held onto-just in case I would someday need it. The following day it was on to the books I’ve accumulated over the years. Next, it was the laundry closet. You get the idea.
All that matters is that you start. That you have a plan, and you stick to it!
Fail Proof Ways to Declutter
Choose a hot place in your home. You know that area where things always seem to pile up. Set a timer, turn your phone off or put it in another room where you won’t be disturbed and just start sorting.
I have three bins-a donate, recycle, and trash bin all next to me. So that as I look at things-they are put into one of the bins and I continue forward.
You’ll be amazed at how freeing it can feel to simply let go of stuff!
Minimalists have a saying “If you haven’t worn or used something in the past year-why do you still own it?” This helps them question their purpose and relevance of certain items that they may not need anymore.
While the sentimentalist in me who loves that one dress I wore five years ago has a hard time letting go of it, I know that I won’t wear it again. So it goes into the donate pile. If difficult feelings come up for me around letting go of certain things, I take time to feel the feelings, offer appreciation for how those items made me feel at one time, and then still continue forward with donating it.
Taking the time to feel the feelings as you go, will bring you peace and appreciation for the role that items served in your life at one time. But it doesn’t mean that you need to hang onto those items any longer. It’s about moving forward and keeping the items in your life that bring you joy today, not in the past.
Minimizing your space gives you not just physical clarity but mental clarity as well. In deciding what you’ll keep and let go of, you come face to face with what truly matters to you.
Letting go of the things that no longer serve you is one way to create space in your life. Minimalists have a second saying which is “charity begins at home”. It’s important for minimalists to give back too-instead of just letting stuff sit around or throwing it away, they choose items that are useful and give them another life by donating them.
They recognize that when they give away things-someone else who may need it more than them will benefit from their generosity.
After putting the donations in the back of my car, I make sure to take them to the donation center within a few days. Otherwise my trunk can become a hotbed of clutter that again causes additional stress.
Minimalism for me is about clearing my life of excess so I have space to live intentionally and with purpose. I want my physical space to reflect my mental space. The clearer and more organized my physical environment, the clearer my mind feels.
Seemingly small changes like decluttering your space are actually incredibly powerful. They add up to a beautiful transformational change that unfolds in directions you never could have anticipated and is truly delightful.
Give it a try today. You will be amazed how much decluttering even a small space in your home or office makes a true difference in how you feel-giving you more energy to spend time on things you enjoy.