This week is the twice-yearly council pick up where you can put junk on the front verge for collection. Generally, other people collect much of the stuff that gets thrown out before the council comes around. One person’s junk can be another’s treasure.
This got me thinking about how cluttered our lives can become. We all accumulate stuff. But how much of it do we use and how much just sits around? This is a universal problem. Japanese writer Marie Kondo had great success with her “KonMari” method of de-cluttering.
One key point she says is to ask yourself if touching an object brings you joy? If it does not, then get rid of it. She also recommends sorting out similar objects together rather than doing a room at a time. This is simple but goes against what we naturally tend to do.
There are other forms of clutter, which do not involve objects. Our diary can be filled with too many commitments. Our immediate environment can be cluttered with noise and distractions. Our lives can be cluttered with too many demands and relationships, which are draining. Our finances can be cluttered with debts.
Ultimately all this creates stress in our lives. A growing body of work shows that stress contributes to chronic inflammation in the body. In turn this leads to a number of illnesses including heart disease. And of course chronic stress is not good for our mental health either.
Getting adequate sleep, regular exercise (can be as basic as a walk) and meditation also help us with managing stress.
There are other solutions. It can be as simple as just throwing out stuff that you no longer need or use. We can re-examine our priorities in life and choose which commitments to make and which to say no to. We can find silence by switching off devices or going out into nature. We can choose who we want to spend time with. We can get finances under control by making different decisions about spending.
Our lives can be de-cluttered. It is up to us to do it.