Jesus told the rich young ruler (in this past post) to sell what he had (which I think means the whole pile) and give away the money (which I think also means the whole pile), then come follow him
—and we struggle just to reduce our load of clutter by a fraction!
Peter declared that he and the other disciples had left all to follow Christ
—and we seem to have hands of glue that can’t let go of this, or that, or anything much.
What can we do about this? A couple sets of wisdom about clutter that I happened upon in the past year might help.
The one proves decluttering offers unexpected benefits for mind, soul, and body. The other gives a novel decluttering method that I have found to be the best approach ever!
Part One: The Advantages of the Clutter-Freed
This “found wisdom” came from this whimsical-looking book I picked up on another bookstore visit. The word “joy” caught my attention, and the illustrations hinted at fun, so… how could I resist?
I’m so glad it got it, because it’s not all frivolity and springboards to get the creative juices flowing. It also contains fascinating scientific findings. One example? The “surprising psychological benefits” of decluttering. I quote:
“Whilst some studies point toward a messy desk as a sign of a creative mind, more often… clutter tends to be a source of stress and anxiety, bombarding our minds with unnecessary stimuli that draws our attention away from whatever we should be focusing on.”
A UCLA research team observing 32 Los Angeles families discovered all the mothers’ stress hormones spiked during time spent dealing with their belongings. Physical clutter affects the brain much like multitasking—“it overloads your senses, making you feel stressed, and impairs your ability to think creatively.”
“Another study…from the Johns Hopkins Cary Business School and the University of Illinois suggests that it’s scarcity rather than abundance that promotes creativity. They conducted a series of experiments to test the effects of having more versus less in terms of creativity. The pivotal dynamic is what the study authors call a “constraint mindset,” which is a mode of thinking activated by having less. The greater the constraint mindset, the more creatively a given person will make use of their resource. So all of this ‘stuff’ we’re accumulating could be having a direct impact on our ability to think creatively.”
Part Two: But how do we actually do the de-clutter?
I’ve seen so many ads promoting storage containers, systems, and gadgets supposedly designed to de-clutter… but I suspect all they do is invite us just to keep and rearrange the clutter we already have—in the additional stuff we just bought!
I’ve watched so many instructional pieces showing how to sort clutter into piles: the keeps, the give-aways, and the throw-outs, but these are seldom ruthless enough to make a noticeable difference.
Then I saw this delightful gal at Origami Twist explain a tactic that did the trick!
Instead of starting with what you might throw out or give away, you look at your whole Mount Everest in whatever category (hers was crafts) and decide what you absolutely must have to do the job adequately. Separate out those essentials, and forget about the rest! (If you can’t bear to toss them, stash them in the attic or garage, out of sight—and mind).
It helps to imagine you’re moving to, say, a tiny cabin, or need to take your craft or job on the road—in limited luggage.
It’s amazing how little you can get by with. Doing this with my collage/mixed-media stuff, I found I could nicely arrange everything I needed into three small totes, which I could carry anywhere. But I found myself working out of them right at home and disregarding all that other fluff—and yeah, the results probably were more creative than with the distracting load of tools and materials.
Seems this process would have a similar benefit on spirituality, don’t you think? Looks like Jesus knew what he was doing when he told that rich dude to get rid of his “clutter” before trying to follow Him!
Q 4 U: What needs the above kind of decluttering in your life? (And this doesn’t just mean material things.)