Taking a Wide View of the Effects of Things on Us

I just thought of another insightful moment from last Sunday's clutter busting workshop. One of the participants brought in some articles that she had torn out of magazines long ago. At the time she saved them because she wanted to read them. But now she had big piles of article at home and she wasn't reading them and she didn't know what to do.

This is pretty common. When I come to people's homes, they often have a collection of things they want to read but aren't reading. Sometimes they are saved as favorites on their computer. Other times the entire magazine is saved, or just the torn out selected pieces. The people are frustrated because nothing is happening with them. It's hard to know there's something you want to do, and you're not doing it. Living with this frustration is clutter because it's not making our lives a better place to be.

Our minds tell us, "Yes, but I want to save these articles because I want to read them." But it's good to take a step back and see the effect living this way has on us. It's hard on us to have something in our life that's a constant source of frustration. I asked the woman at the workshop about her experience. She said when she rarely got around to reading the articles, she felt some joy. I asked her what the presence of the large stacks of unread articles felt like to her on a daily basis. She said, "I hate it! It's this reminder that I'm not reading them. And the stacks look terrible! They make me feel so uncomfortable."

She had a few minutes of joy from the articles every once in a while. She also lived with the constant pain of the presence of the articles. Clutter busting is taking a wide view of the effects of the things in our environment on us. Our mind has the ability to try and shut out the pain caused by something with rationalized concepts on the possible joys. Living that way takes a lot of energy. Rather than ignore this pain, I find it's much more pleasurable to notice what's making us uncomfortable and removing it from our lives. There's relief in letting it go. This gives us peace of mind.

The person with the articles got it. She decided to let go of all the articles and start fresh. She said she would watch the impulse to save an article, and either read the article right away, or just not save it.