Keep clutter minimal
The piles of mail! The tower of books in the corner! The tchotchkes crowding every surface! If this sounds like your home, you’re not alone. The first step to being truly happy in your space is to figure out what to keep—and what to let go. “A cluttered room is much more likely to produce, and contribute to, a cluttered mind,” says professional organizer Marie Kondo, creator of the KonMari method and author of the bestseller The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. “I believe that only in an uncluttered room, which enables an uncluttered mind, can you truly focus your attention and your energy on the matters in your life which are preventing you from reaching your truest happiness.” According to design psychologist Sally Augustin, PhD, the powerful mental effects of clutter have roots in our evolution. “In our early days as a species, our lives depended on continually surveying the environment and seeing if anything was coming that was going to eat us,” she says. “Today we continue to survey our environment, and too many things makes this subconscious reviewing more difficult, which is why the visual complexity of clutter is so stressful.” A study from Princeton University shows that too much disorganized stimuli simply overwhelms the brain. Don’t miss these other signs your home is stressing you out.
Display meaningful objects
The process of letting go of “stuff” doesn’t mean you should live in a stark environment—Dr. Augustin says this would feel alien to us. Kondo’s method uses the test of whether an object “sparks joy” in your heart. “When you decide what to keep based on what sparks joy, you are establishing and reaffirming to yourself what is most important to you,” she says. It’s not about the latest home design styles—it’s how an object makes you feel. Still love showing off that soccer trophy from third grade? Keep it! As far as how much to display, balance out the chaos in your life with a visually quieter environment. The amount that feels right may vary from person to person, but Dr. Augustin suggests four or five pictures in a room and a couple of objects on a surface, depending on the size. Kondo says an added benefit of going through your possessions is learning how to get rid of mental baggage as well as the physical. “The skills you learn can be applied in your life well beyond deciding on which souvenir coffee mug to keep,” she says. Here are 11 more signs you need to get rid of stuff.