From Clutter to Clarity: How and Why I Simplified My Life


My natural inclination is to hoard the things I love. This default action has been a cause of a lot of suffering in my life. I’ve struggled with my weight because of too much food. I’ve been bogged down with drama because of gathering the affection of too many boys at one time. I’ve spent hours looking for one decent outfit as I pull from a closet that is bursting at the seams with choices. There is a constant nagging fear that I don’t have enough when the truth is I usually have too much.

In college, I was a total thrift store junkie. I wore a different, crazy outfit everyday and my room was cluttered with quirky knickknacks. My senior year, I was walking with a close friend on my way to class and he said, “This outfit is crazy. I can totally see you being one of those women with 12 cats who has to move piles of old magazines out of the way to open the door.” Uh, oh. This is not the look I was going for but it was probably where I was headed. That conversation haunted me. Has someone ever said something to you in passing that continues to echo around your mind for months? My friend’s casual statement haunted me.

After graduation, I was taking stock of my life. Questions daunted me, like, “Who do I want to be?” and “What do I want my life to look like?” There was so much random crap in my life, dresses that kind of fit and books from the 1970’s that I would never read but I thought looked cool. The clutter in my physical world seemed to be spreading into my mental world. There were too many thoughts, too many directions my life could go, too many people who I only sort-of liked and who only partially made me feel good, including the guy I was dating at the time.

I made a very drastic choice. I was going to clear my life of random clutter and crap. I would only keep the things that I really loved. I had a test that all belongings had to pass.

Is it useful?

  • Have I used it in the past year?
  • Does it serve an actual function?

Do I love it?

  • When I look at it, does it make me happy or does it bring up bad memories?
  • Do I feel beautiful and confident when I wear it?

Is this more valuable to me than the space it would clear up in my life?

  • Does this complicate my life more than it serves my life?

I put all of my possessions through this test and was left with very few items. I ended up realizing that I value my time, space and ease more than I value any possession. I’m happier now because I only keep things that make my life feel or function better. Less money goes into storing my possessions and more money is left to spend on travel, people I love and great experiences. By putting my belongings through this rigorous test, I also started to look at the people I allowed in my life. Yeah, I dumped the chump who was only nice to me sometimes. I stopped cruelly collecting men like trinkets. I found one really great guy to love who tells me everyday how much he loves me and how beautiful I am, and I married him. Good things happen when you simplify. You are left with only the best and it feels so much better than having a whole lot of crap.