Any conversation about living more slowly and simply is inevitably going to arrive at the topic of de-cluttering. Although we are bombarded with constant messaging to suggest otherwise, life really is simpler when you have less stuff. A home that’s overflowing with stuff creates a sense of chaos in your physical space that translates to chaos in your mind. Getting rid of some of that stuff will lessen the chaos and give you room to breathe. De-cluttering alone is not going to change your life, but it’s an important first step. Creating space opens the door to new possibilities.
In recent years there’s been a lot of buzz about minimalism. To me, minimalism is something quite different to simply getting rid of the excess stuff in your house. I think of it this way; if de-cluttering is the first step, minimalism is where you’re headed. It takes time to get there though. It’s one thing to let go of the stuff you already have. It’s quite another to break the addiction to consuming more. Yes you can go through drawers and chuck out useless knick-knacks, clothes that don’t fit and toiletries you never use. But it’s a fairly pointless exercises if you just go out next week and buy more.
Minimalism is the art of living without attachment to stuff. It’s learning to let go of the culture of consumption and walk away from the cash register. We are addicted to buying things. We often purchase things we don’t even want, just for the buzz of having something new. But it doesn’t make us happy. In fact 99% of the stuff that is consumed in the western world is disposed of within 6 months. We’re bombarded daily with promises of everlasting joy from the consumption of goods and every day we’re let down as our purchases fail to deliver. When you put it that way, it really shouldn’t be that hard to let go. Right???
So how far do we need to go with all this de-cluttering and minimalism? We can’t get rid of all the stuff – we need it to live our lives. Stuff aint all bad – it serves an enormous array of practical purposes. But beyond that practical, necessary stuff, how much OTHER stuff do we really need? How many pairs of jeans? How many face creams? How many devices? How many soft toys? How many pens? How many scarves? But….what if you LOVE your scarf collection? What if you derive great pleasure from all that kitsch stationery? It’s true that life is not all about practicality. Some things deserve to be in our life simply because they are beautiful, precious or nostalgic. A favourite coat that we pull out every winter with a smile. A book that reminds us of a special time. A smooth stone we picked up on a walk with a loved one. These things serve a purpose in our lives; they bring us joy. Only let go of the items that serve no purpose or bring no joy.
This week’s One Small Change is to get rid of some stuff from your home. Just a few things. I don’t think we can become minimalists overnight; we have a lifetime of habit to break. By gently beginning to de-clutter your life, you’ll become increasingly conscious of the stuff that serves no purposes and brings no joy. As you discover the wide open spaces and clear bright surfaces you might feel less inclined to pile them with more stuff. I don’t consider myself a minimalist just yet, though I might be getting close! I’m certainly a de-clutterer, but it’s a long slow process, and the more I do, the more I realise there is to do. One thing’s for sure – it’s never too late to start 🙂
Your One Small Change This Week
Choose a shelf, cupboard, surface or drawer to de-clutter in your home. If you’re stuck for ideas, pick one of the following. Go through everything, keeping only the items that are either useful or bring you joy. If an item is useful, it deserves the honour of a permanent place in your home; find that place. If an item brings you joy, find a special place for it; maybe somewhere you will come across it occasionally and smile.
Some suggested areas to de-clutter:
- The dreaded top drawer
- Your bedside table
- That bowl or container on the kitchen bench where things are dumped
- Your socks and jocks (yes!)
- The cupboard with kitchen stuff you never use
- The linen / towels cupboard