I like to brand myself as an aspiring minimalist because I think the journey to not letting stuff own you is just that – a journey. About two years ago I got to a place where I was really comfortable with the amount of items in our home. I had radically decluttered and downsized, and I could instantly see an improvement in our quality of life. I was spending less time cleaning, and the overall level of stress and chaos was dramatically reduced.
Then the bottom fell out. There was a fire in our apartment and overnight our lives were thrown into chaos. We lived in a hotel for a month, unsure which, if any of our belongings could be salvaged. We were blessed with family and friends who generously gave us everything from Christmas trees to baking sheets to help rebuild our home. We accepted anything and everything because we had no idea what we would need, or even where we would end up.
We ended up in a house with twice the square footage of the apartment. Initially it looked barren because we didn’t have enough furniture to fill it up, but almost two years later I am stunned by what we have manage to accumulate. Aside from the usual accoutrements that go along with a house, like lawnmowers and snowblowers and garden hoses, we have stuff. Everywhere. In every cabinet and on every shelf.
I have been in such a funk lately and I couldn’t figure out why. After a very stressful year, things were starting to look up in a big way. But I was slipping into almost a depression where I couldn’t find motivation. One day, as I was moving a pile from one flat surface to the other in my office it hit me – it was the clutter.
To the average person my house probably doesn’t seem that cluttered. Considering typical Americans can’t park their car in the garage because its full of stuff and the average family has an off-site storage unit to boot. We are doing pretty good by average standards, but its still too much stuff for me.
Last week I finally said, “Enough!” and started by decluttering my office. I was amazed at how much more peaceful I felt almost instantly, and how much more productive I was working in a decluttered office. I am slowly making my way through the house, and I am ashamed at the excuses I have used to stockpile so many things. “I’m a blogger, I need all these props!” or hanging onto clothes that I will never wear again or paperwork I have been too lazy to go through. I could go on and on!
There is nothing I gain by owning more material possessions that is worth exchanging the peace that comes with owning less. Life brings enough stress and chaos with it, why add to that with an overflow of material possessions? While I certainly don’t think the cause of my depression and anxiety is clutter (that is biological) I do believe that it has triggered those conditions. I can’t wait to update you with the “after” report, because my soul is so ready to get back to living simply. Minimalism may not be for you, but I encourage you to think about the stress that having excess may be bringing into your life.