Declutter Your Life: it could make you more content
The average number of possessions per person has increased HUGELY over the last two generations. Contentment levels however appear to have decreased. So it’s clear that excessive consumption does not fulfill its promise to make people happier. So far, so anti consumerism….
But let’s analyse it more deeply: think about how you feel when you go on holiday and enter that hotel room for the first time. You have left both the physical and emotional clutter at home. You are in a calm, clutter-free space and you have taken with you only what you need. It feels freeing and you breathe a sigh of relief. Maybe the physical environment is a key factor. There is research that the brain is wired to respond positively to clutter-free, simple surroundings. Psychotherapist and professional organizer Cindy Glovinsky says that order feels good, in part because in a decluttered space your brain doesn’t have to work so hard. This leaves you feeling calm and energised. Even before thinking about the knock on benefits, by its very nature, losing the clutter has a positive effect on your brain.
But why exactly will living without clutter increase happiness? How does owning less equate to having more of what counts?
Everyone has their own personal financial restraints. However, due to the rise of cheap retail, there are still a multitude of choices available when it comes to purchases. It’s very easy therefore, to buy more than one needs. Far from fostering contentment, having more can create an empty feeling. However, when you allow yourself limited purchases, suddenly each one becomes so much more special. And more appreciated. That’s when owning less can feel like owning more.
And if you’re in the situation where you can’t afford all our belongings? (as is the case if they have been acquired on credit or if you have to go without something else you need) Well clearly then the joy they give you is going to be diminished.
This premise extends beyond physical objects of course. It’s easy to overfill lives with the wrong people and past times too. Spending time on something that enhances life in some way is the ultimate formula for contentment.
Perhaps what it boils down to is that stuff can be distracting and more so the more you have. So, you might be aware of your priorities and goals in life. But the road to achieving them may be long and require commitment and determination. Ultimately though, the sense of achievement and satisfaction would be well worth the hard work. On the other hand, it’s easy to be tempted by what you see online, in publications or (most luring of all) what you see your peers acquire. It’s often just clever marketing though and chances are, most of it won’t help you achieve your goals; it could even hinder you by stealing your attention, time and money.
“Happiness can only be found if you free yourself from other distractions” Saul Bellow