It’s Spring! Reduce Clutter to Release Personal Energy
Sonja Koukel, PhD
Extension Health Specialist
Certified Healthy Homes Specialist
Stuff. We all have it. At times our collection of stuff grows so large that it cannot be contained in
one room. It spills out into other areas of our homes, sometimes resulting in a garage packed so
deep there’s no room for the car. Or, we elect to relocate our stuff to a storage unit where we pay
rent and don’t have to look at it (or deal with it!). Yet, we can visit it occasionally -- just to make
certain it’s still there.
Situations that involve hoarding, the overwhelming clutter that dominates our lives and living
spaces, and individuals drowning in excess stuff is problematic in America. However, stuff is big
business and industry has discovered that America’s problem with clutter translates to big
money. (Note: This article does not address “hoarding”, a disorder that most often requires
Back in the 1970’s the late comedian George Carlin created an entire routine on “stuff.”
According to Carlin:
Actually this is just a place for my stuff, ya know? That's all, a little place for my stuff.
That's all I want, that's all you need in life, is a little place for your stuff, ya know? I can
see it on your table, everybody's got a little place for their stuff. This is my stuff, that's
your stuff, that'll be his stuff over there. That's all you need in life, a little place for your
stuff. That's all your house is: a place to keep your stuff. If you didn't have so much stuff,
you wouldn't need a house. You could just walk around all the time.
A house is just a pile of stuff with a cover on it. You can see that when you're taking off
in an airplane. You look down, you see everybody's got a little pile of stuff. All the little
piles of stuff. (http://www.writers-free-reference.com/funny/story085.htm)
In this issue:
It’s Spring! Reduce Clutter to Release Personal Energy
Understanding Child Abuse
Introduction: Lourdes Olivas
2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines: What’s New and
Simplify Your Life to Find Greater Happiness
Take for example a television program that was popular just a few years back. The premise for each episode was that a volunteer family went through the process of having their lives de-cluttered. The team experts led the family members in dealing effectively and efficiently with their excess stuff. These lucky individuals reclaimed power over their lives through an elimination process.
As one who has relocated quite a bit over the past 15 years, I’m very familiar with keeping my personal possessions to a minimum. I’m certain that our military families can relate to this as well. For the majority of people, however, excess stuff is a problem.
Do you have too much stuff? Here’s a quick exercise: Look around your personal space – be it a bedroom, office, living room, or other room of your choice. No, not a sweeping glance. Give it a good look. Pretend you’ve never seen this room before. What impression do you have? Is it neat and orderly? Or, are the table, chair, and bed overflowing with piles of clutter? If the latter is the case, you need to make peace with your things and keep only those items that you really love or really need. All the other things need to go – not on vacation, but for good.
The reason you want to ditch the clutter is that it holds you in place. Clutter prevents you from moving forward. This belief is based on the philosophy of feng shui, which is all about balance. Feng shui proposes that everything in this world is made up of vibrations and everything holds energy, or Chi (pronounced chee as in CHEEtos). This energy is inside you and all around you. When you improve your chi, you improve your life.
Improving your chi does take focus and intention. For example, when you need to study or complete projects, clear your desk or workspace. That’s right. Remove everything. Wipe it down. Now, put back only those things that are absolutely essential (and, no, your espresso machine is not an essential). If you’ve got stuff draped over the back of your chair, put it away. This activity will give you a fresh start and a fresh perspective on your projects. Try it for a couple of weeks and see for yourself.
I worked with a woman once who cleared her desk every evening before leaving the office. She said by doing this simple exercise she was able to begin her day with a fresh start. This is similar to making certain the dishes are washed and stored before going to bed so the kitchen is clean for the new day. I adopted this practice of clearing my desk at the end of the day and I can attest to appreciating the look and feel of entering a clean office.
Here are more ideas for boosting your chi:
Turn off the lights, the loud music, and the TV. Get some deep, peaceful sleep.
Eat like you understand the theory that good food and lots of water will give you great skin and strong bones.
Get some exercise! It works – try it.
Spend time with your family and friends.
Laugh and laugh. Then, laugh some more.
Read a book for pleasure.
Surround yourself with colors you love.
Now that you’ve decided to take steps in reducing clutter and, thereby, improving your chi, you might want some ideas for recycling that clutter. Here are some suggestions to get you started.
Bring something in, take something out. For example, I have a CD holder that holds 48 CDs. When I buy a new CD, I remove an old one. That way, my collection never outgrows its space.
Bring your excess stuff to the local thrift shop.
Take photos of the stuff you want to get rid of and post them on eBay. Extra cash perhaps?
If your community doesn’t have an exchange center, create one! This could be a wonderful service project. In Alaska, Fairbanks had a “Free Day” where community members would bring all their extra stuff and give it away! Nothing for sale – just trade.
Give your excess stuff to a local charity or church. See whether the charity is having a tag sale to make money, and then donate your belongings to the cause.
Throw a gift exchange party after the holidays. Ask everyone to bring something they don’t want and can’t exchange. Your trash is sure to be someone’s treasure!
In conclusion, help create balance in your life by reducing the clutter. Find out how well clearing your space helps to clear your mind. It can be life altering!
Source: Katherine Olaksen (2005), Dorm Room Feng Shi: Find Your Gua, Free Your Chi.