I've written quite a bit about decluttering in this blog, but I've failed to address the main reason I think it is so important. My favorite thing about decluttering my home is that it makes me more content.
I know it seems counterintuitive. Since feelings of discontent arise from wanting things that we don't have, how is it possible that getting rid of the things we do have will make us more content? Let me explain.
Pretend you're walking into a large party. When you enter the room, you realize you don't know over half of the people there. 30% are people that you do know, but don't really enjoy spending time with. Only 10% of the guests are people who you know and enjoy.
How do you feel about being at that particular party?
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Now, imagine that as the night wears on, guests slowly start to leave. Soon you realize that the only people left in the room are the people you know and like, and maybe a few friendly strangers who you've gotten to know.
How do you feel about the party now? Yes, it's dwindled down to something small, but you're probably a lot more comfortable and a lot more content.
Decluttering feels like getting rid of the unwanted guests at the party.
Having tons of people around might make the party seem more full and festive at first, but at the end of the day, I think we're most content when we're surrounded by people (and things) we love — even if it's not a lot of people or a lot of things.
I came to this notion one day when I was searching for a pen. We had a zillion pens in the house, but I could never seem to find one that worked properly. We had tons of these leaky, annoying pens I'd bought in bulk because they were on sale, and I hated them. There were a few pens in the house that I loved, but I could never seem to find them amongst all of the other crappy pens.
When I was filling out a form and the ink from one of the bad pens smeared everywhere, I finally lost it and did a massive pen purge. I got rid of all of the terrible pens, and searched every nook and cranny for the "good" pens, which I put in the pen holder on my desk.
Suddenly, every time I reached for a pen, I got a good one instead of a bad one, and I was so much more content with our pen situation — even though I'd drastically reduced the amount of pens in the house. I know that talking about contentedness in relation to pens sounds ludicrous, but it's just one way to illustrate a mindset that can carry over into everything else in your home.
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How Decluttering Creates Contentment:
- When I spend time decluttering the rooms my home, I'm suddenly more content with its size instead of wishing we had more space.
- When my closet only contains clothing that I love to wear, I feel good about what I put on every day, even if it's not "new" or I don't have a major selection to choose from.
- When I look for a mug for my coffee, I know my cabinet only contains the ones I love the most.
- When I reach for a towel, I know I'm not going to end up with an old one that does a horrible job of drying because I got rid of it long ago.
In this age of $1 bins and nonstop clearance sales, it's so easy to just keep adding more, more, and more to our lives because "it was such a good deal" or "it hardly cost anything."
But when we're just filling up our homes and cabinets and drawers with stuff that we don't really care about or don't even like that much, it's just going to breed more discontent instead of making us more fulfilled.
The next time you find yourself feeling like you have nothing to wear, feeling unhappy with how your home looks, or getting that itch to shop for the sake of shopping, spend some time decluttering before you head out to buy more. Get rid of the "unwanted guests" in your home in the form of decorations you don't love, clothing that no longer fits, excess cups and plates, make-up & toiletries that just don't work for you, and bad pens. :)
Just choose one room or one small section of your home to declutter, removing any items that you don't really love or absolutely need, and see if you don't feel more content whenever you open that drawer or step into that area the next time.
Come back and tell me if it worked!