Collecting and being consumed by clutter on a grand scale is a relatively modern concept. Our ancient ancestors didn’t have a supermarket at nearly every corner, malls and online shopping at every turn. When life was less complicated, there were not nearly as many ways to accumulate excess, the unwanted stuff we call “clutter.”
In feng shui, there's a concept of energy flow and vitality known as “chi,” or “qi”. This life-force energy needs to move freely and in abundance in a space for it to promote heath, happiness and prosperity. Clutter creates an obstruction and stops that amazing flow.
Clutter can be found in an array of places, and can be cleared on many levels. Here are a few common causes of clutter:
- Clothes that don’t fit, or that you don’t like in your closet
- A refrigerator or pantry filled with expired foods or food that affects you negatively
- Books you don’t want to read on the shelf
- Excess paper clutter in offices
- Email overwhelm and social media clutter of messages
- Purses, wallets
- Storage units, attics and garages
And the list goes on.
I could just suggest that you clear up your clutter — donate what you can, recycle, up-cycle, file, store or safely dispose of the rest — and a few of you will do it. Many of you won’t. It is a chore.
Clearing clutter is also an emotional process for many people, especially when the clutter is extreme. It can create chaos and frustration at the outset to clear your clutter.
If you don’t quit clearing the clutter, even when it gets chaotic for a moment, this act of purging can be a life-changing activity! But, if you don’t know how it can help you, you might leave it undone.
Here are a handful of the benefits of clearing clutter — the profoundly cool ones I have seen again and again — that might just motivate you to start clearing out some of your own space.
1. You'll feel less anxious.
Clutter is made up of stuff that is either junk, unfinished projects you've told yourself you'll finish, or things that need to be handled that you haven’t wanted to confront. All of those messages looming in your environment, even stuffed in closets and drawers, are like trying to stuff a bad memory away instead of dealing with it in a conscious way.
2. Your days will be more productive.
When you don’t have physical obstructions like piles of paper staring you in the face, you can do so much more in much less time.
3. You may lose some weight!
Several clients and friends have shown me that clutter can be correlated with excess weight. Since our environments are an external mirror of our internal mind and life, when you free yourself of the extra stuff, pounds tend to come off, even if you aren’t clearing your kitchen (*though I suggest the kitchen as a first step for most people aiming to lose weight).
4. You'll be free of emotional stagnation.
The gifts from past romances that haunt you, the things you hold onto that you know are keeping you stuck in the past… releasing them will help you to feel more free and present.
5. Your mental focus will sharpen.
Clear spaces and countertops are a feng shui way to express metal energy. Metal energy in feng shui helps you to curate, to think sharply and zero in on the tasks that you select as important.
6. Your creativity can flourish.
When you shake yourself free of “stuff” you don’t need, you become more open to that “life force,” or “chi,” I mentioned earlier. Creativity on a high level is the expression of that energy running through us without obstruction. We say we are “blocked” when we can’t create freely. Clutter-clearing is a tool to get unblocked.
7. You'll get allergy relief.
Stuff collects dust, chemicals, mites, bugs… even mold and other organisms in the worst-case scenarios.
8. You'll be open to opportunity.
One much-reported effect of clutter clearing is finding money or greater opportunity, especially when you dig deep into de-cluttering your business emails, work space, office files and even your personal contacts.
9. You'll get a self-esteem boost.
Clutter assaults our self-esteem daily with reminders of things we don’t need or want to see: the broken, worn-out, bad-memory stuff that can drag you down in subtle but actual ways.
10. You'll have more energy and be happier!
When there's nothing hovering in your environment — stuffed, piled or splayed out — to impede motion, you might feel lightness, exuberance and greater energy. I always do!
If you're overdue for a clutter clearing, give it a go. Slowly and consistently, you can create a massive change in your space and your life. If you have some stuff piling up regularly (emails, mail, receipts, etc), you may want to consider a daily or weekly practice of clutter clearing. Even a few minutes of clearing space can do wonders for your life!
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