Clutter, clutter everywhere clutter: New resolutions for 2017
We live in a world of plenty. Our homes are littered with objects that we have accumulated over years of buying, receiving gifts, or hoarding stuff in every corner, closet, and drawer. Our emails are flooded with mail that is not only work related but also emails from blogs we have subscribed to and different societies whose news we thought we needed to follow… Our cars have become storage space for objects in limbo waiting for a decision… Our Facebook accounts are abundant with friends. Our offices are crammed with books, papers, mail and other paraphernalia.
And we are never satisfied – we spend our weekends browsing through our favorite high street stores looking for more clothes to buy, we walk into the supermarket to buy groceries and we leave with a trolley full of stuff we think we might need. We collect points through banks and stores and exchange them for gadgets that we are made to believe that we need. Our favorite pastime is shopping and our biggest anxieties are about not having enough.
The average person makes more money today than he/she ever did in the past, they live in bigger homes, have more possessions, spend more money on food and other household gadgets, and are in a constant quest for more. Hoarding has become a lifestyle bordering on the pathological for many people.
As the year comes to an end; most people start evaluating what they have achieved and embark on a quest to identify weaknesses and shortcomings that need consideration and this is usually how our list of resolutions for the New Year is conceived.
With a lot of determination we kick off the year fully confident that we will transform our lives. Year after year we fail miserably and we rarely reflect on the reasons for this failure. In no time, we find ourselves going through the same process again, creating amazing new goals only to see them wither away before the end of the first month.
The real reason for this failure lies not in the intentions and goals but in the implementation. We fail to bridge the rift between the beautiful goals and the arduous execution process. Very often, we have noble intentions and the desire to create change but we live in a world that is constantly driving us to seek more, and we are often overwhelmed with a thousand and one things that demand our attention. In this modern world we rarely take the time to assess our current state and realign our intentions with our capabilities. We rarely provide our intentions and goals with the suitable environment that will allow them to materialize.
Studies have shown that our performance is inversely correlated with clutter in our surroundings. Excesses distract us and create a negative impact on our ability to focus and produce. Neuroscientists at Princeton University found that clutter in our surroundings competes for our attention and this leads to a decrease in our performance and an increase in stress. Clutter taxes our senses and blocks our ability to think creatively or to function efficiently. Multiple experiences of failure leave us with feelings of inadequacy, low efficacy and under achievement which ultimately reinforce our low self-esteem and self-confidence.
Do you have New Year resolutions already? De-cluttering your life might be a great one!
Studies have shown that our performance is inversely correlated with clutter in our surroundings.
To improve our chances of success and to give ourselves the opportunity to realize our resolutions we need to start to clear our lives of excesses and give our brains the chance to be fully engaged with the task at hand, to process information efficiently and to be mindful of our daily actions. To reach a stage of optimal performance we need to start with a cleansing process; a process of de-cluttering not only our physical environments but also our social and emotional ones.
Start by de-cluttering your physical environment – your desk, your room and your house. Sort out your belongings into piles of ‘absolutely must keep’, ‘definitely do not need’ and a pile of ‘not sure yet’. Nearly everything that we do not need and that has been hanging around for ages will be of better use in a needy home. Giving away belongings you do not need will clear your storage space and will make you feel lighter and happier knowing that you brought some joy and comfort to someone else. Your pile of ‘not sure yet’ needs another sorting until you are left with only what you need. You can start with one drawer or one shelf at a time; go at your own pace until de-cluttering becomes a ritual.
Clearing your home might be physically tiring but eventually you will feel more energetic and a sense of serenity and harmony will roam around you. Now is the time to move on to sorting out your relationships and de-cluttering your social life. Relationships we build over years have the power to lift us up but some will drain you and tear you down. Try to surround yourself with the people who provide you with positive vibes, who bring joy into your life and who engulf you with warmth and love. Clear your social life of toxic people whose negative energy drains you emotionally. A strong social support network is fundamental to our psychological health. However, it is the quality of the relationship that matters rather than the quantity of friendships. Getting rid of the social clutter in your life will leave plenty of room to consolidate a healthy and positive social network. It is painful to let go of unhealthy friendships but the peace that comes after a storm is well worth it.
De-cluttering your emotional world is the ultimate challenge! When we are overwhelmed with the external world we tend to turn inwards and start breeding negative emotions. This is natural and we all end up with emotional clutter – resentment, fear, bitterness, greed, anxiety, envy, hatred… The beauty of an emotional cleansing is that it allows you to reflect back on your experiences, process them rationally and identify the negative emotions that are draining you. Start to practice gratitude and replace each negative emotion with a positive attitude through recognizing your emotional wealth. Replace hatred with forgiveness – forgive yourself and others. Replace your anxieties with mini successes. Allow yourself to scan the past for things that hurt and disturb you and get rid of them. Transform past experiences into stepping stones for your future. Release your frustrations and allow them to float away from you and replace them with moments of joy. Practice mindfulness and be fully engaged in the present moment.
If you are serious about your New Year resolutions then prepare yourself to embrace them fully. De-cluttering will improve your ability to focus and it will also boost your mood. It might be time consuming to sort out our lives but the return on this investment is well worth the efforts. You might decide to take a day off just to clear your home or office. Once you are done, you will be delighted with the impact of the new atmosphere. This will be the well-deserved gift that you really need! A full process of de-cluttering will leave you feeling fresh, grateful and accomplished. Only then will you truly appreciate the things that matter and give a chance for your dreams to materialize.