Clutter stresses me out.
Despite this, I can’t seem to get away from it.
As I write this post, there is a pile of laundry in my room that needs folded. There is a stack of papers in my office that I don’t want to go through. And there’s random homework and clothing items that my kids have left in places where they don’t belong.
I could go on…
My point is, I don’t have a perfectly-organized home. I don’t want to give you this impression because, well, it’s simply not true.
See? I wasn’t lying. :)
However, I can honestly tell you that my home is more organized than it used to be.
The main reason?
In my family we make a conscious effort to own less stuff.
I first read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo a few years ago. This book changed the way I thought about my “stuff.”
Instead of holding on to items that “I might someday want to use,” the book taught me to consider whether or not an item “sparks joy” for me. And it helped me to appreciate the freedom that comes with letting go of things that are not joy-sparking.
In other words, the book taught me about creating a joyful environment by deliberately removing distractions and excess.
Marie on TV
When I learned that Marie Kondo had a series on Netflix, I couldn’t wait to watch it.
Each episode tackles a different theme related to clutter, such as:
The clutter that comes with small kids
Combining possessions when a couple moves in together
Holding on to possessions of a family member who has passed away.
My Favorite Episode
The episode that really resonated with me is called The Downsizers.
This episode is about a young family of four who moved from Michigan to LA in search of better career opportunities. In order to do this, they needed to downsize from a four-bedroom house to a two-bedroom apartment.
A year and a half after the move, their new space still didn’t feel “like home.”
The dad stated, “We feel stressed at home because of the clutter.”
The mom explained that it’s “an unnecessary pressure and stress.”
Then, in perfect mom guilt form (seriously ladies, where do we learn the mom guilt?!), the mom admitted, “I feel like I’m to blame because I’m the mom, and Mom is supposed to create the memories. Mom is supposed to make home home. I hold that near and dear, and I own it.”
She went on to say, “I feel like I’m failing in that area, which is not okay with me.”
Then she said this:
“I want to create a home that they will remember, you know? I want them to remember where they had peace of mind, and they had a lot of love, and that’s where their support came from.”
Notice that she didn’t say, “I want to create a house that is flawless, that looks like a magazine, with high-end furniture and appliances, and lots of impressive stuff.”
No. She said she wanted to create a home filled with:
Peace of mind
I love that. She gets to the heart of what’s really important.
“Home isn’t a place, it’s a feeling.” -Cecilia Ahern
A Healthy Environment
Our environment has a lot to do with our state of health and well-being.
A cluttered, chaotic environment is likely to breed stress and overwhelm.
A calm, tidy, cozy environment is likely to bring comfort and peace of mind.
Marie Kondo’s work highlights the power we have to CREATE the kind of environment we want.
And it highlights how our environment can be a great source of healing and joy.
This has nothing to do with owning fancy stuff, and everything to do with our state of mind, and how we show up in our space.
For me, a joyful environment is characterized by:
This is the kind of environment I try to create (albeit imperfectly).
How about you? What does a joyful, healing environment look like to you? And how are you creating it?
Check out my 5-minute video on this topic!
This post was originally published on April 3, 2019.