This post is about how de-cluttering my life has put me on the right path…
Driving on the PCH one day, feeling fed up and frustrated with spending so much of my precious life in traffic, a wave of depression hit me as I stared blankly into the ass of the car in front of me.
I opened up my iPhone (my savior during times like these), went to the podcast app, and searched “Happiness”. A podcast popped up called “Simply Happy” on TED Radio Hour (take a listen if you have a moment!).
As soon as I could focus my attention on something positive, my sad boredom dissipated into the vast Pacific Ocean next to me. The drive suddenly became somewhat more pleasant.
This episode on TED Radio Hour evolved into something that I wasn’t expecting, and its content completely aligned with what I was doing in my life at that moment in time. They were talking about how having less STUFF makes for a more lasting feeling of happiness in life.
But first, what is the source of our unhappiness?? The episode started with the results of a conducted study through an app called Track Your Happiness by Matt Killingsworth. He found that MIND WANDERING is what we do 30% of our time, and is the main cause of unhappiness.
This means, that approximately 30% of our time, we are not present. Not present with what we are doing, wishing we were somewhere else… This Mind Wandering is what I was doing most of the time in my car!
Then came my favorite part of “Simply Happy” – and interview with Graham Hill of LifeEdited.com. A man who went from zero to millions, bought a house and filled it with stuff, but then finally found his happy zen in a 400 square-foot apartment with barely anything in it.
During this time, I was deliberately in the process of de-cluttering my life. I had just quit my office job, and temporarily returned to the quiet life of horse-back riding and making coffee. Ends were not meeting and I still didn’t know what I wanted my life to look like, so without shame I moved back in with my mother to avoid paying rent.
This was the best decision I had made for myself in a long time- mainly because I was forced to get rid of all the pointless shit that I had accumulated over the years in order to move into her tiny apartment.
So much SHIT – papers from high school and college, things that I would never look at again for THE REST OF MY LIFE. It was almost hilarious how much pointless crap had accumulated, seamlessly without my knowing. Copies of bills that were 3 years old, etc. etc. How did I end up with all this STUFF????
This calls into question of WHY we hang onto things we don’t need… I’ll be researching and writing more about that in the next few blog posts.
What I did save were the following: art that I had made in my life, put into two scrap books and to be hung at the next place I settle down in. A couple of photo albums I made as a kid, a box of books I hold dear to me (don’t worry, these will probably be gone soon too), and some family heirlooms that hold our history. And obviously my clothes.
Here is the most important thing I realized after de-cluttering my possessions: I had more mental space to think about what is most important to me, and to take action on that.
Travel, friends, and family were revealed to be my top three values. I booked trips to New York, South America, and Asia, to see family and experience new cultures. Now that I wasn’t spending all my money on and apartment and pointless things that ADDED clutter to my life, it became way more possible!
(Also, most people also don’t have the option of moving back in with the parents, so thank you Mommy for letting me move back in!!! I can’t deny that I am a very privileged white girl with a loving family. So that helps… )
The main lesson at hand: de-cluttering your life at the material level clears mental, emotional, and physical space so that you are more able to focus on what you really care about.
So I invite you to take a look at your spending habits, how you fill your living space, what you spend your time doing, and question whether it all aligns with what’s most important to you. Feel free to share your experiences in the comments below!