Oh the life-changing magic of tidying! I love Marie Kondo. I read her book a few years ago and love to adopt a minimalist lifestyle myself, but having come back from being a nomad and settled a bit in the UK, I’ve acquired a lot more stuff. So, thanks to Netflix showcasing her in a new series, I remembered her approach to ‘stuff’ - only keep it if it’s essential or if it sparks joy. What really resonates with her approach is that she firstly tells you to visualise your ideal life.
Best Possible Self
What visualising can do for you, either mentally or written down, as many of my clients, as well as I know first hand, can be dramatically life-changing. I love to set my clients the Best Possible Self exercise, an evidence-based Positive Psychological Intervention where you write about your best possible self in the future: how you want your future to look.
How it works is that it coaxes your priorities out of you and redirects your focus onto what you want.
You’re then choosing what you want your life to be like. That’s not only super exciting and empowering but also liberating from social norms and expectations. When you visualise your dream life and how you would live in your house… your tidying and clearing takes on a whole new energy.
Letting go and practising detachment from material things is one of the best soul-cleansing exercises we can do. Living Intentionally is to choose what you surround yourself with, physically and mentally in terms of people, information you expose yourself to as well as the items you keep in your space. Your space!
Your stuff reflects who you are
Those with a solid sense of who they are now and where they are going will find it easier to let things go.
De-cluttering your stuff is difficult because it makes you question your identity.
Your stuff contains energy and emotions. Everything you bought was done so in a particular emotional state at a particular time of your life. Therefore the emotional situatedness it holds can cause it to be more difficult to part with.
It requires us to objectively look at our sense of self as reflected in our possessions. Our stuff, our clothes, our things, show us where we’ve been and with who and also how we felt at certain times. For example, if you’ve lost weight and you see clothes you wore when you were larger, they make evoke difficult emotions associated with how you felt about yourself then and vice versa, if you’ve put on weight, clothes you owned when you were smaller will either motivate you or make you feel guilty. If they do the latter, let them go and accept yourself now. You can only get to B if you know where A is.
Also we keep things such as gifts from people who may no longer be in your life due to death, relationship ending or other reasons because we feel it’s letting go of them from our lives. Their memory lives within you and no amount of de-cluttering will ever change that. The way they inspired you and positively affected you is with you now and can’t be unlearnt…
And if they were toxic, don’t keep anything related to them. Cut the chord.
Research in Applied Positive Psychology at the University of East London interviewed a number of participants in order to develop a theory for minimalism and wellbeing and found the following benefits:
-More autonomy/greater sense of freedom
Who doesn't want more freedom? Relieving yourself of unnecessary crap allows you to clean more easily and therefore probably more often, it allows you to move easily around your space (no bumping into things or tripping over things or feeling a sense of messiness) it allows you to move house more easily (three boxes? check!) But psychologically it allows you a sense of liberation from not being attached to items and therefore having to take care of them. Every thing you own requires a piece of energy from you, whether it's demanding space in your house or needing to be kept in a certain way/state. Autonomy here also relates to choosing NOT to buy something.
Raising awareness of what's important to them. By carefully curating your belongings you are more aware of and more exposed to that which you love. If what's left are for example your scuba diving kit, your wetsuit, your travelling books and pictures, it's clear that adventure is a core value to you and makes you very happy - greater awareness of our values would benefit us all.
All participants reported minimalism is a catalyst for increased joy and peacefulness.
-More mental space
Without objects fighting for your attention, you can think more clearly. Why do people go for walks in nature when they need to clear their minds? Because the expanse that nature provides is calming and provides space for us to think. It's the same in your home. We all feel better with a clear or tidy bedroom. What's that saying, a tidy room is a tidy mind? True.
It makes you feel more competent. It increases your sense of self-efficacy. How? Because letting go of stuff requires a bit of courage sometimes. By letting go of things that you find difficult to let go of, you're exercising your "I can" muscle. Cultivating fearlessness.
Consumerism is part of a hedonistic approach to happiness. Short-lived thrills. Easy come easy go. If you are more conscious of what you have in your house, you'll feel less need to buy more. Why? Because you'll feel more satisfied with what you have. You'll feel more grateful because you'll be surrounded by things you love. Therefore you won't have a 'lack mentality', you'll feel more of a sense of abundance.
Buddhists live as simply as possible. They know the secret to the happy life is not through the pursuit of material things but to cultivate happiness from within. What will you do with all the extra money saved from not buying things as a result of knowing you already have everything you need?
Living with less gives you more mental space, autonomy, competence and positive emotions. Visualising your dream life and then engaging in the Best Possible Self exercise can help you shift your attention to who you want to be going forward, which will be reflected back to you by your environment! It's then cumulative, as you'll be feeling clearer, more focused and freer to really take action to do the things you need to do to be the best, ultimate you!
If you would like guidance on how to use the Best Possible Self PPI towards changing your life and you are ready to take real action towards creating your dream life with the help of a coach, contact me here