Is clutter keeping you unhappy?
“Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither.” | C.S. Lewis
It all started at 5:00 that morning. I awoke to go to the bathroom, and having gone to bed unusually early the night before, I quickly found myself wide awake. I grabbed my iPhone 6 as I crawled back into bed. My husband was still snoring soundly beside me, but sleep had left me, and soon, I found myself – again – mindlessly scrolling through my Facebook feed.
I was so tired of Facebook. It’s always the same. While I still see the value in keeping up with old friends and family members who live across the country, in recent months my Facebook feed has been just one more source of stress and clutter in my life.
As I lay there, continuing to scroll out of sheer boredom, I came across an article by intentional living coach Allie Casazza (a read I highly recommend!), and as I read, I realized that although I am only a few months into my marriage and have no kids, I relate to Allie’s feelings of stress and discouragement.
I began to think about the things that cause me the most stress and dissatisfaction in my life, and at the core, they are all just “stuff.” Maybe not always in the material sense of the word, but “stuff” nonetheless. I have allowed the things that clutter up my life to steal my joy.
This “stuff” weighs us down, often dictating how we spend our money, time, and ultimately, our lives. In the words of Dave Ramsey, American businessman and author, “We buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like.” And he’s right.
There’s no question that clutter is a problem, but really, how bad is it? Consider the following effects of “stuff” on our lives, from an article in Psychology Today by Sherrie Bourg Carter, PsyD:
- Clutter bombards our minds with excessive stimuli (visual, olfactory, tactile), causing our senses to work overtime on stimuli that aren't necessary or important.
- Clutter distracts us by drawing our attention away from what our focus should be on.
- Clutter makes it more difficult to relax, both physically and mentally.
- Clutter constantly signals to our brains that our work is never done.
- Clutter makes us anxious because we're never sure what it's going to take to get through to the bottom of the pile.
- Clutter creates feelings of guilt ("I should be more organized") and embarrassment, especially when others unexpectedly drop by our homes or work spaces.
- Clutter inhibits creativity and productivity by invading the open spaces that allow most people to think, brain storm, and problem solve.
- Clutter frustrates us by preventing us from locating what we need quickly (e.g. files and paperwork lost in the "pile" or keys swallowed up by the clutter).
Take a moment to think about the greatest sources of stress and dissatisfaction in your life.
The things that cause me the most stress and waste the most of my time fall into three main categories:
- Finances, debt, and bills
- Clutter and disorganization
- Time management
Almost everything I dislike about my life can be traced back to “stuff” -- “stuff” I don’t need to buy, “stuff” I don’t need to keep, and “stuff” I don’t need to do.
At the core, it weighs down our souls - that core part of our personality that longs for and thrives in beauty, creativity, and wonder.
As I wrote in the “About” section, Veryhappywell is a project in intentional living. I firmly believe in the principle that it takes intentionality to make room for the things in your life that you truly value. It means being able to identify those things that matter to you, and then putting them first, rather than putting them off.
Veryhappywell is here to help give you perspective, tools, ideas, and encouragement as you begin to pursue an intentional lifestyle.