Decluttering could be the process that leads to the simpler life that Friends are often advised to lead. There is, of course, the decluttering of your physical living space. Here, the secret to success is probably starting small. Clean out just one drawer today. Tomorrow do one more drawer or maybe—if you’re feeling ambitious—half of a closet. In a fairly short time, you’ll start to notice a difference in the whole house.
Be especially attentive to the bedroom. According to The University of Tennessee Medical Center, a tidy, well-organized bedroom relaxes the mind and prepares you for sleep. So, pick up any clothes on the bedroom floor, clean off the top of the dresser, and choose just one or two favorite pictures for the wall.
Decluttering your calendar is also important. Friends tend to take on too many time-consuming activities. If you’re on three monthly meeting committees, maybe you should just serve on two. Among all your social action projects, which ones do you truly enjoy and want to keep doing? Discard the rest.
Don’t try to save time by multitasking. It’s impossible to do more than one higher-level cognitive task at a time. What the brain really does is switch rapidly from one task to the other, losing time in the process. Focusing on the job at hand is the true path to productivity and efficiency.
Do you have too many friends? If a friendship truly refreshes, invigorates, and supports you, it’s a keeper. If your friend repeatedly spends an hour on the phone complaining and drains you of energy, you’d be well-advised not to answer so many of his or her calls. (Of course, sometimes God calls us to maintain a problematic relationship.)
Then there is the decluttering of the mind. Mindfulness or a breathing meditation may help clear your head and reduce stress. Online games may be mentally relaxing, but they can also be addictive. Set a timer so that you shut off your phone or computer before overdoing the games. Make sure that your social media choices genuinely lift your spirits and don’t lead to depression or anxiety. You’re not obligated to have a hundred friends on Facebook. Unfriend casual acquaintances who consistently make you feel bad.
If there is a clutter of negative thoughts in your mind, try filling your mental space with thoughts and feelings of gratitude. There’s so much in life to be grateful for, including life itself. If gratitude almost never enters your head, if the Inner Light doesn’t sometimes lead you toward joy, perhaps professional help is needed to cultivate a more positive attitude.
(This post was based on an article in United Healthcare’s magazine: Heidi Pearson, “The Joy of Living Simply.” Renew, Fall 2021, pp. 20—23.)
~ Richard Russell
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