After almost three decades of living in homes with basements and attics (phew at least no garages) I learned over and over again the danger of having space. Turns out that we humans "abhor a vacuum" Thanks, Aristotle.
When the kids no longer fit into, played with and/or needed something it went down or up in our house, but alas not out! We all know this is a terrible idea as truly out of sight out of mind.
More and more though people are accumulating so much stuff that it spills out of those storage places into their daily living space. And this becomes more than a trip hazard having too much clutter is impacting our health.
Emilie Le Beau Lucchesi writing in the New York Times, quotes Joseph Ferrari, a professor of psychology at DePaul University in Chicago who studies the causes of clutter and its impact on emotional well-being, as saying,
“Clutter is an overabundance of possessions that collectively create chaotic and disorderly living spaces.”
Dr. Ferrari and his co-author Catherine A. Roster published their study findings which showed "a substantial link between procrastination and clutter problems in all age groups. Frustration with clutter tended to increase with age. Among older adults, clutter problems were also associated with life dissatisfaction."
Interestingly there seem to be several approaches to decluttering and minimizing the stress caused by all the mess and disorder in our lives.
Dr. Ferrari feels that clutter is often the result of an “over-attachment” to our personal items, which makes it difficult to part with them. For overwhelmed individuals who want to declutter, he recommends a hands-off approach. If you’re going to declutter, don’t touch the item. Don’t pick it up,” he said. “Have somebody else hold the pair of black pants and say, ‘Do you need this?’ Once you touch the item, you are less likely to get rid of it.”
Whereas the best selling author and star of her own Netflix series Marie Kondo instructs us to hold each item and find those things which truly spark joy, those are the items you retain for the rest you thank them and eliminate them from your life.
Whatever technique works for you, it is clear that less in our personal environment translates into more happiness, more freedom from anxiety and more time for our family and friends. That seems like an enormous reward for tidying up!