The Art of the De-clutter

Over the weekend, I took it upon myself to clean out my closet. Well, my one closet, my other closet, and my dresser. It was no small task, but once I got started it was impossible to stop until it was finished. And honestly, I feel like everything could still use one final sweep. Call it Spring Cleaning, call it a small but powerful bout of the Type A personality I’ve always lacked, or just call it a desperate desire to de-clutter. To simplify. Whatever compelled me, I feel like I’m on a roll.

The thing is that I own a lot of stuff. And don’t get me wrong, I like stuff. I like interior design and having nice bedding and great clothes (I like great clothes A LOT) and all of the usual that you’d expect. But the older I get, the more apparent it is to me that A) Fewer, nicer things are better than a lot of “just okay” things, and B) Stuff doesn’t guarantee happiness, especially if the stuff causes you stress.

I suppose the art of the de-clutter isn’t just about the physical, but about the mental, too. De-cluttering your life means creating a simpler, more peaceful space, both in your home and in your mind. One of my new year’s resolutions was to start doing a little bit of yoga every morning, but I’ll be honest, just the act of it doesn’t achieve the goal. I need to be better about focusing in and actually allowing myself to be calm. Be still. Breathe. What’s the point of going through the motions if you don’t let them affect you?

Of course, the idea of the de-clutter and actually de-cluttering are two very different things, and while de-cluttering my space might not require a Herculean effort, de-cluttering life on a larger scale calls for exactly that. I think it’s probably more about changing the little things on a daily basis, though, and understanding how those little things add up to a more peaceful existence. For example, I used to stress about money a lot. So instead of continuing to buy things that I knew I didn’t need, or things that I simply “wanted”, I just … didn’t. Our spending tends to grow with our salaries, and sometimes I have to remind myself that if I was able to live on my own sucessfully making 1/3 less of what I’m making now, I am definitely capable of living within my current financial situation. It’s a change I’m still working on, but it’s amazing how doing a few small things differently each day can affect the bigger picture.

This whole “de-cluttering” thing is definitely not a new movement (in fact I’m pretty sure I’m just late to the party), but I think it’s really important, especially being at a stage in my life when I’m not truly responsible for anyone but myself. It’s easier, sometimes, to not even claim that responsibility – what? who? me? I’m just over here trying not to screw things up  – but the truth is we have 100% agency in our lives, and for me, the art of the de-clutter is a way to actively exercise that agency. It always feels good to toss out the old and bring in the new, whatever the new may be, and I hope I can create sustainable change in my life by doing so.

After all, I did clean out my closets this weekend, so I’m already on a roll … right?

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