Sometimes I feel like I am drowning in clutter, both mental and physical! Between 2011 and 2014, we moved 4 times, and every time I said to myself “why have we got so much stuff!” I generally do a good clear up before we move. Now though, we have been in the same house for almost 3 years and the clutter is beginning to take over again. I don’t know how it happens. It’s either time to move again, or attack the clutter!
I’ve been trying to consume less for at least 2 years now – trying to cut back on buying stuff so that I can invest, pay off debt and clear a large mortgage on my own (Changing the way my money flows) I am the type of person who likes to have space in cupboards, rather than them all overflowing with stuff, but when I see my cupboards beginning to fill up, I know that stuff is creeping into the house.
For example, this article ‘The Art of Enough’ popped up in my Facebook feed a few weeks ago. It is always good to read another article to get me back on track and remind me why I am trying to keep the clutter at bay. What shocked me was the opening paragraphs with views from Annie Leonard whose documentary in 2007 “The Story of Stuff” tracked the cycle of commodities from production to disposal. “The average person now consumes twice as much as 50 years ago”. In our grandparents’ day, she says, “stewardship and resourcefulness and thrift were valued.”
The article talks about a “hedonic treadmill” which is a constant cycle of buying, a “postconsumption buzz, followed by a disappointing crash, which is then chased by a search for another buzz” In my own attempt to consume less, I certainly found it hard to break away from this cycle. I’ve just had to keep reminding myself why I am trying to do it.
Although my own ‘consume less’ campaign was initially started as a way to spend less and live within my means, deep down I know its because I don’t need the stuff, and the hedonic treadmill really feeds into global consumerism, which in turn is destroying our planet. And with regard to the clutter itself, as Tisha Morris said “ Clutter is just stagnant energy … where there’s clutter in your home, there will be clutter in you, either physically, mentally or emotionally”.
Who needs stagnant energy?One of the suggestions in the article that resonated with my own focus on Everyday Delights is “Cultivate Contentment”, in other words staying present – “developing an understanding of what truly brings us pleasure, and knowing how to savour what we’re doing, eating, or watching at the moment”. There are a few other tips in that section that align beautifully with my focus: whether I choose to look at my circumstances positively or negatively, appreciating what I see around me and taking note of the small things that happen every day.
Clearing the clutter, one step at a time
So, I have started the process of clearing the clutter. One tiny bit at a time. So far I have tackled my art and craft supplies, makeup, some of my clothes drawers, costume jewellery, deleting unwanted apps and photos off my phone and computer and so on.
Tiny steps… and a few ground rules based on Karen Kingston’s (2) clutter test: Does it lift my energy when I think about it or look at it? Do I love it? Is it genuinely useful? I’d also add:
- Would I grab it if my house was on fire?
- If it hasn’t been used or worn for a year, it needs to go! I’m quite good at applying this rule to my clothes, but to other things, not so much. But I am trying!
- If it brings back bad memories or negative emotions, it needs to go as well!
There is still much to do, but I have started. My next job is to clear a table or a surface perhaps my bedside table, an idea from the ancient art of Feng Shui – to help me clarify my vision for the future. Cluttered surfaces mean that there is no clear space to imagine or manifest anything new (5).
Man, I have so many cluttered surfaces, no wonder I feel bogged down!