Do you sometimes feel overwhelmed by stuff??? We have a garage full of things that are calling attention to me every time I pass them by on my way in. I am the kind of person who doesn't like clutter. It makes my mind cluttered. I can't sit down and relax if I am looking at all the things around me that need to be picked up, put away, cleaned, or taken care of. I cannot relax my mind or my body in clutter. In consequence, clutter makes me feel anxious, frustrated, and overwhelmed. And that, in turn, affects how I relate to others around me, my family and friends.
With Christmas just behind us, I find myself struggling yet again with making room for all the new things we now have. We simply cannot inflate our closets and shelves to accommodate more stuff, so we need a different approach.
As I was thinking about how to tackle this issue, I came across a podcast by Jess Lively of jesslively.com in which she interviewed Courtney Carver of Be More with Less (http://jesslively.com/courtneycarver/) about approaching the holidays with intention—dealing with expectations, presents, and clutter! One thing that stood out to me from the interview was Courtney's philosophy of minimalism and how it changed her life for the better. She reminded me that I have to deal with the old stuff (donate something, throw it away or keep it) in order to be ready to make room for the new things. I think that is true not just with clutter, but in all areas of life—letting go of the old (bad relationships, people's expectations, our own addictions, perfectionism—you name it) in order to make room for new growth. So I was hooked on this new philosophy of being intentional with your things and your life called the New Minimalism.
I was doing some more research on this topic, and I found many blogs and websites that deal with the issue of clearing out the clutter—the logistics of it, and how the final results of living more simply can affect all the other areas of life. The Minimalists explain it as:
It’s a way to escape the excesses of the world around us — the excesses of consumerism, material possessions, clutter, having too much to do, too much debt, too many distractions, too much noise. But too little meaning. Minimalism is a way of eschewing the non-essential in order to focus on what’s truly important, what gives our lives meaning, what gives us joy and value.....Minimalism is a tool we use to get rid of the excess stuff in our lives to make room for the essential. Minimalism allows us to focus on what’s important in life—health, relationships, passion, growth, contribution—so we can find happiness, fulfillment, and freedom....It’s simply getting rid of things you do not use or need, leaving an uncluttered, simple environment and an uncluttered, simple life. It’s living without an obsession with material things or an obsession with doing everything and doing too much. It’s using simple tools, having a simple wardrobe, carrying little and living lightly.
What I hear in this philosophy is the call to re-focus, reevaluate our lives, not just to get rid of the excess stuff. Simplicity of living and spirituality have long been linked together. Many spiritual giants like St. Francis of Assisi and Gandhi called for a life of simplicity as a spiritual practice of having less and living more, being more open to God, to those in need, to our relationships--to living with intentionally focused lives. Would you take that challenge with me this coming year? To de-clutter our lives of stuff and of those things that keeps us spiritually and mentally stuck? To live more simply? Because we have to deal with old to make room for the new.
If you are interested in learning more about the minimalist lifestyle, here are some more websites I like:
www.success.com - how living with less can give you more