My life used to be super cluttered. Without really realising it, I just kept on acquiring more and more stuff. Mountains of clothes, half of which I never wore and when my bedroom didn’t look like a small bomb had hit it, I still had to search high and low to locate anything. The funny thing was, I certainly wasn’t a shopaholic, just an average consumer – a whimsical, monkey-brained spender.
Our consumerist culture has a sneaky way of enticing us to spend even when we don’t have any intention of buying anything in the first place. We are programmed to be weapons of mass consumption. From a young age, we’ve been taught to marvel at abundance. If we reflect upon just how much we buy, collect and hoard, it’s quite shocking. Perhaps the worst part of unconscious consumerism is, as Dave Ramsey once pointed out, “We often buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like.” The keeping up with the Joneses syndrome!
Scientific studies show that clutter has a disturbingly chaotic effect on the mind, leaving you feeling drained and stuck in a rut. Upon closer look, clutter isn’t just mess – you might have a tidy-looking wardrobe, but your clothes might be clutter. My definition of clutter is anything that isn’t useful or serving you well in life. Clutter includes people or anything in your environment that fails to boost your wellbeing.
A few months ago, I did a major cleanse of my own life and I was pleasantly surprised by how much calmer I felt afterwards. With less clutter comes clarity of thought and serenity. There’s still more spring-cleaning to be done but I’m well on my way to saying goodbye to Miss Maximalist.
Here are some tips on how to lighten your load, let go of what’s holding you back and create space for positive energy to enter your life…
SEVEN CLUTTER BUSTING STEPS
1. The first step is to recognise clutter when you see it. Ask yourself if you really need something. How often do you use it? If your reaction to an item is a feeling of uncertainty or agitation, then let it go!
2. Set aside a full day to do a wardrobe cleanse. Get some recycled bin bags and stick to a three-pile technique – things to throw away, things to donate to charity and things to recycle. Put undecided things into a box and wait two months – if you still haven’t opened the box, chuck it out.
3. Feng shui expert Shivani Adalja says our living space absorbs all our emotions. “A physical clear out should be followed by an emotional one,” she says. Burning natural candles helps to zap negative emotional energy. I love the 100 per cent soy and beeswax candles at Candles Naturally as well as Neom’s luxury organic candles.
4. Fresh flowers instantly brighten up a space and studies show they boost energy and happy hormone levels. I’m a big fan of yellow sunflowers and orchids.
5. Every so often, we have to let a few friends go. When it comes to purging friends, it’s best to go with your gut instinct. Ask yourself: do you feel worn out or energised in their company? Do they challenge, nurture and inspire you? Letting go of people who don’t have your best interests at heart is just as beneficial for you as it is for them. It allows you both the space to attract new people into your circle, those who value and accept you for who you really are.
6. Next time you get the urge to go on a shopping spree just for the sake of it – because you’re bored or feeling down – take this powerful message into account, The Story of Stuff.
7. It’s important not to let the things you own, end up owning you. As my Zen teacher reminds me, it’s healthy to develop a sense of detachment towards everything you own. Once you drop the possessive attitude of ‘that’s mine’, an instant feeling of Zen emerges.