UCLA Study Shows De-Cluttering Good for Mental & Physical Health

De-Cluttering Good for Mental & Physical Health

This article is timely because I just moved and have been packing or unpacking for months now (OK, with a vacation thrown in). I haven’t collected any data but often when I spend time with my possessions – washing dishes, putting away clothes, or yesterday when I spent 10 seconds deciding which spoon to use to stir my dinner – I think about what else I might do with those minutes…

Play the guitar

Weed the garden

Read a book

Practice vocal exercises

Take a walk

Talk with a friend

Write a blog post…

It’s probably not a realistic goal to have zero possessions, which is the sort of extreme thought I have when I’m completely fed up with the pile of seasonal dishtowels creeping out of my pantry.

Instead the goal might be like the rule of parsimony that writers are taught to follow: write what is necessary, but nothing more. Researchers are also trained to think of complex problems or ideas as simply as possible.

Getting back to possessions, how do we know when we have what is necessary but nothing more? Sometimes it’s useful to have more than one serving spoon, such as when people come over and you want to feed them.

Perhaps we don’t know how much is too much until we have gone way overboard. Which the UCLA study about clutter seems to illustrate. If the ’90s and the naughts were about acquiring, I’m crossing my fingers that the 2010’s will be about being selective and resourceful.

Questions to consider:

1) What type of possessions do I spend the most time managing, cleaning, or maintaining? (In which room do most of these possessions belong: kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, study)?

2) If I didn’t have those possessions, what might I do instead? (It’s OK if I just want more rest).

3) What is necessary? What is not? (This is the hardest one. How do you know you won’t need something in 4 months?).

For more on this topic, visit: http://www.scribd.com/doc/77197556/60100856-the-Happiness-Project

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