The stuff we need to make us feel happy and content and at ease.
It’s not about the actual stuff.
Let’s say it’s really important for you to have a tidy house.
Not just that: you’re absolutely sure that a clean and tidy and organized house has a direct and unmistakable influence on your feelings and being in the world, on your production and creativity, and on your peace of mind.
Because every time you see the mess or even the early beginnings of a mess (one wandering sock and an empty coffee mug, parked on the floor), you start to feel restless and uncomfortable.
Like the clutter is fucking with you.
And it is. But it’s not the clutter in your house.
It’s the stuff in your head.
You see: people learn all kinds of ‘truths’ about life and then start to see them materialize. This is also true for many seemingly solid connections we make between things in the world outside us, and our inner peace. We start to really believe that there are causal factors.
We start to FEEL them, and what more proof do you need, right?
So if you’ve learned again and again (thanks mom) that a tidy house is important, that it tells you a lot about yourself and your self-respect and how grown-up you are, and if it’s drilled into you that a messy office or living space makes you insecure and restless and less efficient, that’s exactly what you’re going to experience.
Looking around your living room you think ‘oh man, this is starting to get messy, and when it’s messy I can’t breathe freely, I’m distracted, I’m not able to live my life as relaxed as it can possibly be, I will mess up!’
And as long as you don’t start tidying up, you get another uncomfortable thought. And another one. And before you know it, your head starts to resemble the room.
And that’s where the real problem is.
That is what makes you feel uncomfortable: the thoughts about how it SHOULD be, and what you SHOULD do, and why the hell did you let it slip into this mess again, and how come you still haven’t mastered your inner Marie Kondo!
So you start cleaning up like a cute little robot, and when the mess in your house gets uncluttered, the thoughts in your mind settle. You get less of the uncomfortable ones, and our natural feeling of peace and contentment starts to return.
And, yes, you could say that in a way it helps you to keep everything tidy, because you feel better and more at tease. And you’re right.
In a way. A half sort of way.
Because it’s not the whole story, and when you DO start to see the whole story, a new world of possibilities opens up.
Even in a messy room.
Even in a house with five full-blown adolescents.
There’s nothing, nóthing more powerful when it comes to decluttering, than insights.
Insights into the nature of the human experience clear up the mental mess like nothing else, and make you feel at ease no matter what, even if you want to enjoy a cup of tea in a room with a thousand rogue socks and dust rolling over the floor like tumbleweeds.
Joy will be sparked from within, not from the outside.
And if you like it tidy anyway, well, than just tidy up.
It’s all good.