Today we welcome Danielle LaPorte, author of the blog White Hot Truth, as a guest on Unclutterer. She is a consultant who helps entrepreneurs rock their careers, is a former think tank exec, and author of the bestselling book, Style Statement: Live By Your Own Design.
Clutter is the result of choices. That may sound obvious, but until you start to actually examine your choices, a clutter-free life will elude you. Peace of mind is often buried in the choices you didn’t make. The “default” choices to let stuff into your life that doesn’t really match your true self.
Your bookshelf, your dinner plates, your nicky nacs. Shoes! (Shoes are a whole psychology unto themselves. I’m sure if Freud lived longer he would have studied the mental underpinnings of footwear choices.) Your sofa. Your in-box. Your pantry contents – all are the result of your choices. You’re the gatekeeper to your home. And nothing gets past you without your conscious or unconscious approval. So what makes it in…and why?
Do a quick visual scan in your head right now – room by room. How did what’s in there get there? Because it was on sale? Because it came with your ex-boyfriend but didn’t leave when he did? Because you positively love the design. Because it makes your heart sing?
I used to keep a ton of books in my living room because I thought it made me look smarter. Big ego choice. Now, I let books pass through my mind and my hands. And the books that I do keep, are well, the keepers – absolutely precious texts that I refer to for regular facts or inspiration.
Ego choices can be deadly. I know someone who chose a Mercedes she couldn’t afford because she wanted to drive up to her high school reunion in it. I had another client with a closet full of vampy, slutty clothes – when what she felt best in was a crisp white shirt and straight jeans. She kept choosing trashy clothes in rebellion against her mother, who for years, told her what was proper to wear.
TOP 4 BY-DEFAULT CLUTTER CHOICES
- My [insert name of well-meaning relative] gave it to me and I just can’t throw it out.
This is tricky. But it gets down to this: life’s short and it’s your place. Objects carry memories and attitudes with them. If you want your home to be your temple or your chill-zone, then making choices based on obligation are only going to weigh you down.
- I really hate this [insert home item or piece of clothing] but I’m waiting to have the money to buy a new one.
Something amazing happens when you get the stuff you don’t like out of your life – stuff that you do like has the room to show up. So chuck the old futon chair from university days, even if it means you sit on the floor for a while. You’ll be raising the vibe, shedding unwanted pounds and sending the universe a clear signal that you’re ready for quality…right now, not later.
- I got it for free, so I may as well keep it.
Gasp. This is the ultimate gotchya-sucker default choice. ‘Cause ain’t nothing for free, baby! (Well, true love is free, but that’s about it.) If it’s taking up physical or mental space – it’s costing you. Everything has an environmental cost to manufacture, ship and dispose of. And when I think of all the “free” crap that I lugged around from apartment to apartment in moving vans – I could have saved enough to buy stuff I really loved.
- But what if I need it someday?
Trust that if you ever need it, you’ll have what you need to get it. If you haven’t worn it for a year and half – give it away. If you’re waiting to lose the ten pounds, forget it. Just love yourself now. A happy life is an as-is life. And junk drawers are called junk drawers for a reason.
Simplicity demands ruthlessness. Consistent, conscious choices create momentum in your life, vitality, sweet satisfaction. You are what you eat. You are the friends you keep. And you are the stuff you choose. So choose from the heart every time – it always knows what’s best for you – and your living room.