“Life is trouble. Only death is not. To be alive is to undo your belt and look for trouble.” –Zorba the Greek
I had the honor and privilege to travel around the beautiful islands of Greece for the past two weeks. Cerulean sea waters sparkled as the sun’s bright light bounced against pristine whitewashed buildings, which nestled into mountainside cliffs. Blue and white perfection. Santorini’s pristine towns and Mykonos’s winding roads made the world seem easy and clean, full of beauty and goodness. I was blown away by gorgeous red poppies and other wildflowers dancing in the wind along the narrow roadsides. Every building and hotel room was simple: white walls, white and blue décor, and just a few places to sit, to sleep, to eat. Nothing more. How beautiful simplicity is.
And how absolutely chaotic life is, no matter how simple our surroundings. Traffic jams, accidents, bad weather, emotional battles, economic crises, government corruption—life is full of ugly moments. But those ugly moments can be made easier to deal with when we simplify our surroundings. When we reduce our clutter, we don’t have to spend time cleaning it up, searching for our items, or feeling overwhelmed by the stuff staring us down. We deal with one less hour of torment. One less task to complete.
Waking up in a clean and cleared space, choosing from only a few outfits and a few options on the menu simplified my day. We all notice that when we travel life seems simpler. We have fewer options because we can only choose from whatever we packed in our suitcase, whatever we can afford at the restaurant, and whatever the town has to offer as entertainment that day.
Life is not simple. People are not simple. Trouble happens whether we look for it or not. But coping with life, dealing with people, and solving troublesome situations is made easier when we reduce the clutter in our lives. We are able to find focus when we get rid of the superfluous.
We can’t control our situations, or life, or people. But we can control the surroundings where we live, the office spaces where we work. We can’t make life simple, but we can choose to simplify our lives.
The first step to simplifying your life, organizing your things, and decluttering
Make a list and decide:
- Who do you want to be? A generous person? A successful person? A compassionate person? How does your stuff get in the way of you becoming the person you want to be?
- What do you value? Freedom? Saving money? Travelling? Entertaining? How does your stuff get in the way of that?
- How can you live a meaningful life? Through family? Through work? Through volunteering? How does your stuff get in the way of that?
Think about your relationship to your stuff and whether it is adding value to your life or causing you stress. Does your stuff help you accomplish your goals of becoming a certain person or leading a certain life?
If your stuff helps you, you simply need to create a system to better organize it so that it helps you become who you want to be, get where you need to go.
If your stuff distracts you, you need to get rid of it.
Your things should add value to your life, not cause you more stress. Life is stressful enough. People are complex enough. We do not need things in our lives to add to the chaos. Your stuff and how much of it you own is the one thing you can control. Make your stuff work for you, or get rid of it. Own your things, don’t let them own you.
And embrace the trouble of life, while letting go of the superfluous stuff.