Tuesday, May 5


Reducing clutter can keep us calm.

Reducing clutter requires a regular assessment of belongings. But just because an item has not been used for a year or more does not necessarily mean they should be tossed. Place such belongings in storage and label the boxes. Opening the box a few months later can offer a pleasant surprise and new appreciation - or perhaps the realization that the time has come to give the possessions away.

And then there is mental clutter. This requires regular assessment of routines, shedding unwanted priorities, distractions and anxiety.  Ryan Nicodemus explains in an essay for the Minimalists: "...once I decided I’d had enough of the mental clutter, I had no choice but to to change my circumstances - I had no choice but to remove myself from circumstances that added to my mental clutter. I stopped associating with certain people, I changed my spending habits, I downsized my possessions. I started with myself, and I changed my circumstances." Nicodemus co-authored of Live a Meaningful Life with Joshua Fields Millburn.

Farnoosh Brock of Prolific Living urges focusing on just one thought at a time and not letting competing ideas bombard the mind.

Individuals can become more than our circumstances, and this becomes obvious with some streamlining. For example, minimize technology. Cellphones can become a ball and chain, forcing users to be at the beck and call of family members, co-workers and friends.

Warning, though: Pushing others to reduce clutter can make them cling to the oddest of possessions. Individuals must make their own choices, and attempts to control another individual almost always backfires.

Writing the books set in Afghanistan, Fear of Beauty and Allure of Deceit, prompted appreciation for the comforts in my life and the value of simplicity. Before making a purchase or a commitment, Stephanie Vozza, interviewing Scott Eblin, author of Overworked and Overwhelmed: The  Mindfulness Alternative, for Fast Company, suggests asking one's self:  "Is this necessary?"

And the answer is often no.

Photo of Afghan market in 2009, courtesy of Staff Sgt. Russell Lee Klika, US Army National Guard, and Wikimedia Commons.

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