I saw an article in Time magazine about Slow Family Living. It's a new approach to living for families that is moving away from being over-active, too demanding and greatly distracted.
The article mentioned, "the many fruits of slowing down, citing research that suggests the brain in its relaxed state is more creative, makes more nuanced connections and is ripe for eureka moments. "With children, they need that space not to be entertained or distracted. What boredom does is take away the noise ... and leave them with space to think deeply, invent their own game, create their own distraction. It's a useful trampoline for children to learn how to get by." I'm certain the same applies for adults. When we're no longer distracted by our clutter, we're more creative and happy.
I'm noticing that many of my clients are letting go of aspects of their lifestyles that left them frazzled and exhausted, and moving in the direction of slowing down. Recently I've written about clients whose bed-side spaces were overtaken by books, magazines, various papers, articles downloaded from the internet, and electronics. When I asked them about each item, there was a resistance to letting these things go. There was a craving that was in the way. Often there was a need to be smarter, better, and to impress. The desire was fueled by fear of not being enough. This anxiety disrupted their sleep, interfered with their connection with their partner, and diminished their health. By taking a closer look at their things, and seeing the negative effect it was having on them, they let them go. They were naturally drawn towards quiet and peace of mind. I think they get the intuitive sense that from a simpler place, they are more satisfied and resourceful.
The article in Time also quoted Kim John Payne, author of Simplicity Parenting, who said, "The average child has 150 toys. "When you cut the toys and clothes back ... the kids really like it." He aims for a cut of roughly 75%: he tosses out the broken toys and gives away the outgrown ones and the busy, noisy, blinking ones that do the playing for you. He suggests paring down to the classics that leave the most to the child's imagination. Then build breaks of calm into their schedule so they can actually enjoy the toys."
This is good clutter busting advice for kids. It's also valuable for adults. When I work with adults they often end up clutter busting about 75% of the things we go through. They also let go of what they've outgrown or that no longer involve them in a positive and enjoyable way. And they like it! They feel good creating space in their lives, and they enjoy moving away from the hyper-living into a way of functioning that is slower and more suitable for enjoying life.
Slowing down can have a negative connotation. It can bring up fears of missing out and getting behind. Meanwhile, jamming our lives full of things, and constantly pushing ourselves beyond our capacities means we often miss out on life right now. We need spaces of rest and quiet. We function better when our homes and our lives are simpler. It's not about what do we need to make our lives better, or how can I be a better person, it's about enjoying our lives as they basically are.