Have you ever walked into your home, found it to be more cluttered than you remembered, and immediately felt ill at ease?
Many of us know this feeling all too well. We might not even notice the subtle shift in our mindset, but a lack of space (both physical and mental) leads to anxiety, procrastination, and a general sense of unrest, harming our mental state by making it impossible to be productive or simply relax.
This feeling comes partially from the dread of knowing all the cleaning and organizing we’ll have to do, but it’s also from sheer sensory overload. Even if you’re not a “messy” person, just being surrounded by a large number of objects can trigger the same feelings of discomfort. Simply put, a lack of organization and an excess of things can overload us mentally and exhaust us physically.
This same concept applies to mental space as well. Instead of a cluttered room, substitute a fully-booked social calendar, or a long list of text messages to reply to. Even if you’re good at organizing and a natural extrovert, it becomes extremely difficult to genuinely appreciate any of those interactions simply because of how many there are.
The Value of Minimalism
Humans crave structure, and we perform at our best when our environment is organized and there are fewer things to focus on. When our mental or physical space is cluttered, we can become overwhelmed or paralyzed, unable to focus on any specific task.
This creates a vicious cycle many people are trapped in where they cannot declutter their mental space until they declutter their physical space, but they can’t declutter their physical space until… you get the point.
Needless to say, this takes a toll on our well-being and keeps us from living in alignment with our Higher Selves. Instead of taking care of ourselves with productive activities like meditation and exercise, we either mindlessly and frantically move from task to task, or simply give up, telling ourselves we will start tackling things tomorrow.
What is simple living?
Simple living is a movement that has arisen to counter this very sense of frustration and overwhelm brought about by intense social pressure and rampant consumerism. There are no strict rules, but the basic idea is to pare down your life to the essentials to help you focus on (and genuinely appreciate) the things that matter most.
Adopting a simple living lifestyle doesn’t necessarily mean forsaking technology, giving away all of your possessions, moving to a farming commune, or taking on a monastic lifestyle. Instead, it means taking a close look at a wide range of areas: your purchasing decisions, your use of technology, your social calendar…. all of these fall under the umbrella of simple living.
At first, the path toward the simple living approach may feel anything but simple. Knowing where to start is never easy, but we’ve put together four of the most important simple living tenets that can strengthen your connection to your Higher Self.
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Prolonged clutter can harm our overall mental health, making us feel stressed, anxious, or even depressed. It’s significantly harder to relax in an untidy environment, and even if we think we can put it out of our minds, subconsciously we know that we’re going to have to deal with it eventually.
Decluttering includes the act of cleaning and organizing, but it also means letting go of things we don’t actively use or need. Consider donating everything from cooking utensils you never use to decorations that you’re not completely enamored with. If something is old and has served its purpose, gently let it go.
How it Brings You Closer to Your Higher Self: Clearing out our physical space prepares us for the (arguably more difficult) task of clearing out our mental space. Part of connecting to the Higher Self requires regular self-reflection and examing if old beliefs and habits are still useful to you, or if it’s time to let them go. This should sound familiar as it’s exactly what we do when we declutter our home or office.
2. Boost your Productivity and Creativity
The toxic effects of clutter also manifest themselves in your workspace. A number of psychological studies have shown that keeping a clean desk will reduce procrastination and help us focus on the task at hand.
Take a look at the before and after pic of the office below. Most of us wouldn’t even want to look into the room in its old state but cleaned up, it looks like a place we’d be excited to work in.
How it Brings You Closer to Your Higher Self: Making progress on our spiritual paths requires focus and study. Meditating, reading, self-reflection… sticking to these essential practices become so much easier when we have a clean working environment. Creative pursuits that connect us to our Higher Selves also become significantly easier when we have a workstation that inspires us.
3. Spending/Buying Less
When you reevaluate everything you own, asking yourself, “do I really need this?”, you will also learn to think twice before you buy something new in the first place. There is a huge connection between financial instability and psychological distress, and we can teach ourselves to cultivate financial maturity by being mindful of our purchases.
Less consumption also helps the environment by curbing the effects of rampant consumerism, and also reminds you to practice gratitude for what you have instead of focusing on what you don’t have..
How it Brings You Closer to Your Higher Self: Even if you’re financially comfortable and acquiring new possessions, feeling like you need new things can fill life with a sense of constantly diminishing returns. Instead, be mindful of why you always need a sense of newness in your life. Is it possible that you’re trying to distract yourself from the (admittedly challenging) work of spiritual and personal development?
When we put the “why” of our seeking ahead of our urge to acquire more stuff, we empower ourselves to have greater control over impulse consumption and strengthen our ability to make mindful decisions.
4. Connecting with Nature
When you distract yourself with acquisitions, you make literally make your life more confined. You may notice that we are spending too much time indoors which is (you guessed it) detrimental to your mental and physical health, causing anxiety, mood swings, lack of Vitamin D, insomnia, and weight issues.
How it Brings You Closer to Your Higher Self: There is a healing power to nature that we cut ourselves off from when spend too much time indoors. Thankfully, spending as little as 15 a minutes a day in nature can connect us to our Higher Selves.