The piles of junk mail, magazines strewn across the coffee table, clothes piled high, dishes sitting in the sink and dusty tchotchkes crowding every surface. If this sounds like your home, you’re not alone. You may not be a hoarder, but are you a clutter bug?
Everyone wants to be happy these days “uggh, just give me some peace and quiet, that’s all I need to make me happy.” Really, that’s it? Life is manic and people are increasingly looking to make their home a sanctuary — an oasis of bliss, if you will. But can you really call a cluttered, disorganized space a sanctuary? Not really. If happiness starts at home, then we need to make our homes a true oasis — one that is serene and lends itself to being our personal haven from the outside world.
So what does it take to make our personal space a refuge?
The first step to being truly happy in your space is to figure out what to keep—and what to let go of, so you can streamline it and make it more conducive to harmony.
According to Marie Kondo, a professional organizer, “A cluttered room is much more likely to produce, and contribute to, a cluttered mind.”
Kondo, the author of the bestseller, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and creator of the KonMari method maintains that only in an uncluttered room can you truly have an uncluttered mind, thus enabling you to focus your attention and energy on the matters in your life which prevent you from reaching your truest happiness.
And, she’s right. Here is more evidence to support the belief that a cluttered, disorganized environment can negatively impact your mental and physical well-being:
“Although it appears to be a mundane sort of thing, I find disorganization and chaos to be one of the biggest problems reported by depressed and anxious individuals. Emotional baggage has a way of building up, and then expressing itself in an outward display of turmoil — as if a tornado had let loose in your brain and your surroundings. Simply put, the stress chemicals from disorganization eat up the good chemicals needed for mood stabilization. With that process in effect, you feel depressed and overwhelmed.” – Dr. Audrey Sherman, Ph. D.
So what can we do to help make our personal spaces more harmonious and conducive to serenity?
1. Don’t be a perfectionist
Being organized doesn’t mean you have to be perfect. The first step is to not let becoming organized seem like a daunting task.
“Being organized is more than papers filed neatly in nicely labeled folders; it’s about intentional living. People have different tolerances for stuff in their space, and finding the happy medium is critical for finding peace. Vow to become more organized, not necessarily perfectly organized.” – Andrea Brundage, Simple Organized Solutions
2. Know your end goal
What are your objectives? Before jumping into it, take time to figure out what you want to accomplish. One of the reasons people fail in organizing their home is to bite off more than they can chew. Take a pad and write down what you want to achieve and jot down some starting points, putting in some realistic expectations for achieving those goals. And, if your overarching goal is to have a more open and harmonious living space, factor that in by imagining how your home will look and feel once you’ve made some headway. It’s also a good idea to start small — consider starting with just one or two rooms and see how it goes.
3. The process of elimination
Go room-by-room and figure out what you want to keep and what you want to get rid of. This is a key step, because the last thing you want to do is have a knee-jerk reaction and get rid of something you really wanted to keep. I do this step regularly — I look around at the “stuff” and consider how important it is to me — if it has a sentimental meaning, I may put it in storage, rather than get rid of it. The process of elimination step works best if you have that pad handy, so you can make notes on the things you’ll keep and the things you’ll get rid of.
Before you start creating more chaos by making piles and filling trash bags, consider your resources — who can come pick up the old ‘stuff’ you don’t want? What can go to Goodwill or another charity? Too many people start the declutter process without thinking of the logistics — make sure you know where that ‘stuff’ is going…and, how it will get there.
Note: As you eliminate and organize, try to get in touch with how you feel about the room — if it’s too sparse or feels cold, then for you, putting some stuff back may make the most sense. The goal is to create a harmonious space that fosters peace and stimulates happiness, so it has to feel right to you.
5. Place with purpose
Once you’ve gotten rid of the clutter, what remains? Where do you want it to go? What works best once you’ve started to organize, is to then place what remains in the best spot. You kept that Vase because your Great Aunt gave it to you — so where do you want to put it, so it has the best effect on the room and, your mood.
I’m a big believer in having a living space that is neat and clean — I have a lot of friends, who like me, find cleaning and organizing very therapeutic. The act of making improvements is motivating and gives you a true sense of accomplishment.
For me, the key to organizing is to consider what I have in my home and to give thought to something before I buy it — I look at that vase/wall art/ tchotchke and try to imagine where it will go and how it will look. If I don’t think it will fit in with our decor, I don’t get it. That’s why before adding something to your home, it’s good to ask “do I really need this?” We have to remember that things don’t create lasting happiness — only we can do that within ourselves.
Good luck in your quest to turn part or all of your home into a personal oasis. With the world increasingly infringing upon our serenity, having a comfortable and energizing personal space is more important than ever — that ‘escape’ is vital to our mental and physical well-being!
“If we could make our house a home, and then make it a sanctuary, I think we could truly find paradise on Earth.” – Alexandra Stoddard