Home Happiness Goodbye Clutter, Hello Happiness!

Goodbye Clutter, Hello Happiness!

by Vidya Sury January 8, 2010 6 comments

De-cluttering = Health, Wealth and Happiness 

It is. Getting rid of clutter is equal to freedom, both mental and physical and I am enjoying this everyday. After probably months and months of reading tips about Feng Shui, and how de-cluttering improves life, I have finally begun to act on it. Of course, I did plan to do a certain set of things before the New Year began, but hey, I did get a pretty good score of 32 out of 40 things done. That’s a major achievement for me…considering my routine since the last few months.

However, I managed to do the following. The trick was to set aside 30 minutes a day. Naturally, it does not make sense to start thinking about what to do. What I did was take a double foolscap sheet of ruled paper and fold it to make eight parts. I titled each part as one room in the house and listed what I’d like to do in that room. I motivated myself by writing down every little thing, even if it was trivial, simply because I could put plenty of ‘ _/ ‘  marks to keep up the momentum of doing things. I positioned a cardboard box in each room to collect things we no longer used or wanted. Got the rest of the family to chip in with this activity – and it actually turned into fun. Okay – so most of the time I got suggestions – but I was determined to enjoy the satisfaction of getting things done, however litte. Actually, determination got me through most days, when all I wanted to do was lay down and close my eyes. I am one persistent so-and-so when I have to be!

Here are some major areas I worked on that made a huge difference for me, and I suspect it will, for most people – good starting point, anyway!:

The refrigerator and store room:
Enthusiastically we stock up. And store. And sometimes, regretfully, forget. Sigh. So – it was the fridge that I focused on, first. I took out all the stuff that had been cozily nestling in the freezer and fridge area – perfectly good stuff, current shelf-life, but no clear idea of when we might use it. I set aside the stuff I am unlikely to use within the next three months. I only kept what I was sure about using in the next two months and simply donated the rest of it. I have also tightened up buying – and buy enough grocery/that kind of stuff to last me a week. In any case, what with the present cost of things and living in an area that’s fully of well-stocked supermarkets, I have no business buying by the sack!. Makes sense in terms of storage, because I don’t have to worry about things getting spoilt. Shopping is also much easier this way – and we always have fresh stuff! Makes complete economic sense.

Wardrobe – linen and clothes
Whoaa – this one was actually a nightmare in some ways. We wear, we wash, we dry, we fold/press and we stack. There were clothes I hadn’t worn for several months. With the ones that I really like, I was a little afraid they may no longer fit. I mean, I seriously don’t like to acknowledge it if I’ve put on weight. :-). Yet, I had to bite the bullet and so – emptied out my wardrobe totally. I picked out just the ones I couldn’t bear to part with, which I could also fit into. Well, I also acknowledged that I need not feel sad about not fitting into the same size I was, ten years ago. Sigh. Then I remembered that the best place for emotions is not in things, but in the heart (sniff sniff) and let go. Sometimes I have to do this before I change my mind, because I am such a packrat with stuff sometimes. The only redeeming factor is that I am also ready to give away when someone wants. Not a valid excuse, I know, but …

The best and easiest part was Vidur’s wardrobe – he keeps growing out of his clothes quickly now. There’s the added attraction of going out and buying him new stuff!. Sury, as always, has a neat wardrobe with never too much. Mom’s is easy too.

Anyway, I am collecting everything that’s more than 6 months old in terms of sheets, towels, cushion/pillow covers and donating them. As for clothes, I have got most of the extra stuff out. I have resolved on “One in, two out” – as that is one effective way to keep the overflow in check.

Shoe shelf
I’ve chucked out all the stuff we haven’t worn since 3 months – if we didn’t then, we never will!

Ugh! This one was tough. Just because we have a lot of attic space, we’d been keeping old magazines, Vidur’s past school books and what not. Gross, I know. Well, all out now. Attic spaces should be banned, I am thinking. I’ve stopped thinking that “I might want to refer back sometime”. Bad enough it piled up in the first place, but it keeps growing you know. Newspapers get used or go to charity. I give away extra food in decent plastic containers that the receipient can keep. I once remember feeling sad when the people I donated stuff to kept the plastic bag so carefully. I now carry extra stuff with me whenever I leave home, so I can drop it off.
I’ve got loads of video cassettes – movies and shows I’ve been planning to watch since just the last decade or so. God knows whether they’ll even play now. So – am giving away these tapes except my wedding videos which I will convert into DVD format. I am still wondering what to do with my 300 odd audio cassettes.

What about mental clutter?
And now comes the best part. Its not just physical clutter I’ve been clearing. I’ve realized I must clear my mental clutter too. I am trying quite hard to let go of all those limiting ideas and crappy preconceptions in my mind, that I’ve lived with. I am enhancing my confidence and being more positive than I usually am. In fact, it is this that has helped me believe that being organized means being more efficient. And God knows – less searching, less irritation etc. This is nothing new to me – in fact most of my friends would tease me about being obsessive about having things in order – but all that was 13 years ago. Things changed when I got married and Vidur came along, and then, my mom began having health problems. Priorities changed, completely.

I understand that it is not about having things arranged perfectly, in color coordinated order; it is just about being able to access things when needed, paying bills on time and generally focusing on priorities. Therefore, it makes sense to be clutter-free, as it makes life simpler.

And then there’s the joy of giving – just giving. There is nothing to match the happiness on the watchman’s face when I hand him food in the morning. Nothing can compare with the look on the roadside childrens’ face when I give them a pack of biscuits, unopened, when I hand over a big bag with extra clothes and plastic bags to the flower-seller….talk about the “I am OK you’re OK” stuff!

Generally happy, I am even happier now, because I suspect that this clutter clearing is becoming a welcome habit! Feng Shui constantly talks about getting rid of clutter – because it benefits health, wealth and happiness, promoting the flow of positive chi. There are nice online groups like freecycle which promote giving and taking things you no longer use. In their own words “It’s all about reuse and keeping good stuff out of landfills.” Here’s the Bangalore group – worth checking out  for those interested in feeling the satisfaction of someone else ‘needing’ the stuff others want to give away.

Who says happiness is not in our hands?

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Kim January 9, 2010 at 8:38 am

Motivating post – thank you. Up in my attic I have five boxes of my kids school notebooks from more then five years ago. I hesitate to just trash them – I want to save some memorobilia of their school years. However, going through five boxes of paper seems like too long of a task. I’m sitting on the fence with this one, but will continue decluttering other areas.

For me living without clutter is a daily reminder that we are not the stuff we own. I have a vision of the truly wealthy person, who lives in total confidence that she will be provided for, and therefore owns not a thing. I’ve got a ways to go!

Thanks for the ideas of where to get started.

LAKSHYA January 11, 2010 at 7:26 am

Decluttering and spring cleaning are excellent, therauptic. But, have to admit, that most of the time, very little lands up in the garbage bin though the exercise leaves one elated about time spent enjoyably , for all the memories and thoughts evoked !!!!!!

Vidya Sury January 11, 2010 at 9:49 am

Kim, thanks for the comment. Took me 6 years to clear out those schoolbooks – so I know what you mean. The devilish thing is, one has to continue to keep that motivation high – so am throwing out/getting rid of/donating at least one thing every day, no matter how trivial. By the way, you’ve got a nice website and I look forward to seeing the email updates!

Vidya Sury January 11, 2010 at 9:50 am

Lakshya, one of the reasons I enjoy the de-cluttering as of now is because its fun getting lost in nostalgia. 😀 And am glad I have a digital camera to store the memories 😀

Shirley January 21, 2010 at 5:02 pm

I loved your article – it was some great information. I think you and your readers might be interested in another article I found, about Dry Eyes.


Paige | simple mindfulness March 11, 2012 at 10:27 pm

In may cases, I haven’t expected the lighter feeling I have about life when I clean things out. I try to bring at least a big bag of things to Goodwill each month. I actually have a reminder on my calendar on the first of each month to “give something away.” When I look at a room or my closet and think I can’t reduce any more, I find that there’s still something I was hanging onto that could really go. De-cluttering is a constant process as we keep bringing new things into our life. Eventually, most of those things stop serving us and we need to let them go.I love how you told of your experience with the process Vidya. Makes it feel much more real and doable. Thank you!


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