startup inspiration

Simplify: Why to Eliminate the Clutter

“Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity! I say let your affairs be as one, two, three and to a hundred or a thousand. We are happy in proportion to the things we can do without.” Henry David Thoreau

I’m feeling the need to simplify my life. Most of my problems are due to one thing: clutter. Too many responsibilities, too many thoughts and most important of them all, too much STUFF.

Not all of this is bad, of course. Most “responsibilities” are fun and what I love to do, my mind is full of ideas (unorganized as they are) and aspirations, and my space has a lot of things that I love and are necessary. I’m sure things are similar for you.

As I’m on a never-ending mission to create peace in my mind by reducing the useless and self-limiting mind chatter, I’ve decided to focus on the physical. Is there anything in your life that weighs you down? Stresses you out? Or causes way too much anxiety?

I know I can think of a thing or two or hundred. This is why I’m going to start on a journey of eliminating a TBD amount of stuff from my life. I’d like to share it here because this is inherently and intrinsically tied to my happiness and my capability to follow my dreams. That is true health right there and you all know how I feel about that! Anyone want to join in?!

Let’s talk about the whys first.

Environmental Impact

Everything comes from somewhere and must end up somewhere. Nothing appears out of thin air, and nothing just goes away. The Story of Stuff is a 20 min. short film that really captures the life cycle of your everyday product. Out of sight, out of mind maybe, but definitely not out. The film is really eye opening and I wholeheartedly recommend it.

I think buying something should be a conscious, deliberate decision so I like to ask myself two questions.

Where did this come from?

Spending money on stuff perpetuates the conditions in which the stuff was produced. For example, new books are trees, just like a hamburger is a cow. I love trees. I love books, too. But I really love trees. It’s important to me to make that connection and consider the implications of my spending.

Where can this go?

There is always the inevitability of not wanting or needing the product anymore. Is it recyclable? Biodegradable? Will is vanish into the earth and enrich it? Or, will it sit in a landfill for 100 years? Wall-E, anyone?

Often the answers to these questions are not what anyone wants to hear. I used to not even ask or care to hear the answers but they are now incredibly hard to ignore. These days it’s damn difficult to be perfect, but embrace the process of moving in the right direction. All I know is that asking these questions makes it a lot easier for me to not buy totally unnecessary things.

Emotional Stress

Maybe it’s just me, but having useless crap all over the place drives me insane. Those beads from St. Patrick’s Day senior year, what the hell do I do with you? Get out of my life, I say.

Knick-knacks, boxes of items marked as miscellaneous that you shove into a corner, drawers overflowing with t-shirts that you can’t throw out because ‘NSync was your first concert and there is NO WAY you can throw away anything with Justin’s face on it, etc..

Trust me, you will feel way lighter without these. Having a clear, clean, organized, open space can only lead to a clear, clean, organized, open mind. And a clear mind is conducive to inner peace and will for sure open up a supercharged connection to your passions and creativity. Stuff acts as a comfort, it’s safe and makes us feel good.

Pushing ourselves out of our comfort zones is always worth it and can lead to amazing things. I have a feeling eliminating extra clutter physically will help me eliminate negative feelings, self-limiting beliefs and other emotions that don’t serve me.

Eliminate the stuff and allow more room for what really matters.

(Dear Lord, please give me the strength to rid myself of my ‘NSync memorabilia. My 14-year-old self will forgive me, right?)

Financial Freedom

It’s so easy to hop on the merry-go-round. You know, the one that goes:

Earn money -> buy stuff because it looks SO COOL/everyone else has it/you will feel better about yourself -> decide to pack it away a month or two later because there is something bigger and better out -> round and round

I say jump off the merry-go-round and tumble into a pile of dolla dolla bills ya’ll. Just think of all you can do with the extra money! You can save it, donate it, or spend it on experience. I dream of traveling and living all over the world. What do you wish you had more money to do? Designer bag < family vacation.

Physical Freedom

This is for those who are like me and dream of jetting all over the damn place. Think of how much easier it would be without having to worry about excessive amounts of useless junk! Extra stuff = a weight holding down your free bird wings.

Other Resources

Ironically, my desire to do this coincides with Bindu Wiles’ Shed Project. Or probably, not so ironically. The universe has a way of presenting us with things right as we need them. In her video, she talks about her views on Shedding and offers a really great insight into what it can do for you. Although I’m not officially doing The Shed Project I’ll be checking in on her progress and site for inspiration.

Kris Carr posted a wonderful vlog on Crazy Sexy Life sharing her story of what eliminating her clutter did for her. Perfect example of how eliminating the stuff allows for other, more wonderful things to fill the space.

Life’s missing white space – Zen Habits

A guest post by the amazing Danielle Laporte on Bindu Wiles, The Law of the Ugly Chair

First Steps

So where shall we begin? This is going to be a journey so I’m going to take it slow to prevent some sort of emotional shock. I say start with the easiest things!

Closet: See what you haven’t worn in a couple of months (or years if due to seasons). Can someone less fortunate use it more than you can? Donate it!! If it’s expensive take it to a thrift store and get some cash for it. Someone will definitely benefit from it regardless.

I’ve already gotten rid of a big bag of clothes and of shoes, but I plan on going back at it to see if I can pare it down a little more. I’m not going to lie, I felt a tinge of sadness donating my sneakers that I wore all throughout HS. Ridiculous, I know, so I got over it.

Bins: Storage bins under beds or elsewhere. I have two huge ones under my bed and a bunch of little boxes tucked away in the closet. I know I can eliminate at least half of this stuff.

I’ll report how it goes.

How do you feel about extra stuff and clutter? Does it stress you out? Is there any area in your life where you can rid yourself of extra baggage?