People who struggle with clutter often buy new products/gadgets/clothing/doodads with the hope that these objects will bring happiness/perfection/success/joy. Then, hours or even minutes later, disappointment sets in when the person realizes that the object isn’t as amazing as he had hoped. The only time an object tends to bring any sort of real satisfaction is when there is a real need for it — your heater breaks down in the middle of winter, so you buy a new furnace and you’re glad you once again have heat.
The show Talk of the Nation on NPR covered this topic on a grand scale when it interviewed Meghan Daum, author of the book Life Would Be Perfect If I Lived In That House, on May 5 in a segment called “Searching For A Perfect Life ‘In That House’.” Through years of buying house after house, Daum found herself searching for the perfect house in hopes of achieving a perfect life:
You know, I think one of the things that we get into, especially in this country, is just this idea that the house is going to save our lives. You know, only a house can make you whole. That was really the idea that I had.
You know, like I say, it’s not the biggest it’s more than just the biggest purchase you’ll ever make. It’s like, you know, it’s a repository for every ambition and anxiety and really, everything about yourself. It’s a container for all your goals and your tastes and what you want out of life.
From the interview, it’s clear that the houses she has owned have not brought her closer to the perfect life. The houses have brought difficulties, not bliss. She needed to be happy with who she was before she could find happiness in a home.
A bigger home won’t solve your clutter problems, and the “perfect” house won’t curb your desire to buy more, more, more or transform your life. The real solution is to fix your relationship with your possessions and get things under control in your current living situation.