Cluttered house, cluttered mind
It has long been accepted as truth that the key to successful and happy living starts in the mind. Norman Vincent Peale penned the power of positive thinking that has been an international bestseller for over a decade and since then many other self help gurus and spiritual leaders have spoken about the same power. There is power in our thoughts and our thoughts reside in our mind.
Have you ever uttered the phrase “Please be quiet, I can hardly hear myself think?” Doubtless every parent or guardian has said it at least once in a lifetime. In order to think the mind needs quiet and order. Positive thoughts are hard to process in a life filled with noise and disorder, powerful thoughts come from a clear mind.
Clear space, clear mind.
A cluttered environment often leads to a cluttered mind. Nothing is found easily, closets are bursting at the seams with clothing that is hardly worn because it doesn’t fit, important papers get lost in crammed drawers and often things that are lost get bought more than once because they are misplaced. This creates chaos and limits the ability of our mind to think clearly.
Some people collect things constantly, new clothes, new stuff and never really let go of old items. Space is finite and as we put more in and don’t take things out, we end up with clutter with countless items that have no use in our homes and our lives.
Getting rid of unnecessary things helps to create space and a cleaner and more orderly environment. On a superficial level a cleaner environment can help prevent illness and foster good physical health. On a more visceral level, an orderly environment can create room for positive thoughts that can turn into successful actions. A cluttered environment can contribute to stress, exacerbating illnesses such as hypertension and asthma and even depression and anxiety.
How do we get rid of clutter?
First, decide to start somewhere. Often times our homes can be so cluttered we get overwhelmed. The thought of having to do all the work discourages us. However as the Chinese proverb states the journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step, so even though the task may seem daunting, once one gets started, it will not be as impossible as it seems.
Break the project down into small achievable chunks. Focus on one area at a time, once that area is completely decluttered then move on to the next. It may have to be done in stages, depending on how severe the situation is.
Ask yourself about your need to keep acquiring? Is it normal and healthy? Do you over spend? Do you really need another pair of black shoes or another book about finance? Are you ever going to read all the back issues of the magazines you keep? Are all the knickknacks you buy to decorate your home completely necessary? Do I buy things just to make me feel better about myself? Asking these sorts of questions will help you understand yourself and understanding is the key to better decision making.
Let go of items that no longer fit your body, home or life. When cleaning out your closet adopt a six month rule, if you haven’t worn it in over six months and it is not seasonal, consider giving it away if it is still in good condition. Donate it to charity or give it to the less fortunate in your life. If you have an item that is broken and you are still planning on getting fixed but haven’t, it may be time to let it go. Clearly it has no use for you, all it does is sit and collect dust and take up space. Find someone who has a deeper need than you and bless that person with it or simply throw it away. Do you have items you bought hoping to fit it into it one day. Give yourself a 30 day limit. If you are not making visible strides towards creating that new you, perhaps you need to take a closer look at the current you and go through a process of acceptance by letting go.
Recycle items that you can use. Old materials can be reworked at the tailor to be made new. Old household items could make useful toys provided that they meet safety requirements. Old magazines and such can be used as art projects for children and books could be donated to schools.
Releasing one’s attachment to things can be difficult. For many people, material items are a sort of security blanket. Some of us believe that the more things we have the more happiness we can create in our lives. Some of us have sentimental items from our past, useless gifts from old lovers for example. While some sentimental items have value, your child’s first shoe perhaps, but a token from a relationship long gone and over may be doing you more harm than good, if it creates an unhealthy link with the past, as someone who is stuck in the past cannot move forward into the future. Things cannot make you happy, so collecting the newest and latest can become an exercise in folly.
Many animals go through a process of shedding their skin or coats, as they outgrow their current skin, they shed it in order to expose the new, healthier and more beautiful skin that they have grown. Releasing items and clearing out our homes, closets and life is like shedding our old skin. As we outgrow items, clothes and even relationships we should release them so as to live new, healthier, more beautiful lives.