Everyone has their own definition of clutter. I’ll give you mine and see whether you agree. For me, decluttering is about removing the unnecessary internal and external stressors from your life so you can live the life you really want.
For some people, decluttering could mean living in the woods, in a house off the grid. Others define decluttering as getting rid of stuff and possessions and downsizing their lives to upsize their happiness.
No matter what your definition of decluttering is, or what lifestyle you’re living, I think everyone could use at least a little bit of decluttering in their life. Don’t you agree?
It’s no secret today that we’re bombarded by outside stressors. Many of which were unfamiliar to even the previous generation: social media, smartphones, streaming TV shows, Netflix, text messages, emails, and pop-ups on our web browsers, to name a few. At first, these were a lot of fun, but now that the novelty has worn off, most of us struggle to deal with these new types of stressors.
Every time we open a new screen or look at our smartphone, tablet, or laptop, we’re blasted with marketing messages that promise us happiness if we buy what they’re selling. From the time we’re born, we’re taught that we must be the ultimate consumer. We’re encouraged to buy, buy, buy to fill the void of our unhappiness with shiny objects. Could this be why we’re witnessing an epidemic of obesity, depression, anxiety, and overall dissatisfaction with our lives today?
I’m guessing we agree on that point. And since we seem to agree that having more items doesn’t equal happiness, let me show you some of the absurdity of our “consume everything in sight” model:
It’s estimated that in 2018, close to $200 billion was spent on marketing in the United States. Yet, we’ve become so conditioned to this constant pushing of products; we don’t realize that it’s gnawing away at our happiness. In fact, some of these products are making us less happy or even hurting us. I’ll give you one example, which I’m pretty sure we’ll agree on.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), in 2016, $9.5 billion was spent on marketing cigarettes and smokeless tobacco in the United States. This translates to about $26 million each day, or more than $1 million every hour. Isn’t it amazing that this much money is spent to get us addicted and slowly kill us? But I think we’ll agree that the tobacco industry wouldn’t be spending that kind of money if it didn’t make them a fat profit at the expense of people’s health and finances.
Nearly $170 billion a year is spent to provide medical care for adults who smoke. These smoking-related illnesses in the United States cost more than $300 billion each year. But it doesn’t stop with the impact on our health. We absorb $156 billion in lost productivity, including $5.6 billion in lost productivity due to secondhand smoke exposure.
Okay, so maybe you’ve never smoked in your life. But my point is that a LOT of money is spent pushing a product that’s been medically PROVEN to kill people. I’m showing you these numbers to prove how successful targeted marketing works and how it can influence people to do things that are actually harmful. And I would argue that we would probably never buy these things if it weren’t for the “guerrilla-style” marketing tactics used on us.
With $200 billion spent on marketing every year, you have to ask…what about all the other products that are supposed to make us happy or cure our anxiety, depression, or lack of fulfillment? How about pharmaceutical drug commercials?
Did you know pharmaceutical companies aren’t allowed to advertise on television in Europe? This is because governments in Europe have realized how influential these advertisements are. But in the good old United States of America, we’re blitzed with constant pharmaceutical ads telling us they have the cure for whatever is ailing us, even when we didn’t know it was ailing us to begin with!
I know the above examples are primarily focused on health. But guess what the largest elephant in the room is today…our failing health!
Don’t take this as a jab at the American lifestyle. This is a jab at consumerism, which, as you might know, is a “value” that’s been pounded into us by people who think they know what will make us happy. And it just so happens that these same people get rich selling us these products.
I know this first-hand, as I was once a foaming at the mouth member of the Cult of Consumption, which eventually led me to the Cult of Clutter.
As a matter of fact, I used to follow the shopaholic mantra just like everyone else. It took me four decades to figure it out. But I finally made the change and decided to live the life I want. I’ll share my story here, along with what I’ve learned while on my journey to a life of ultimate simplicity and happiness. But our primary goal is to help you declutter your life from unnecessary stuff, drama, and anxiety, so you can make room for what you and I both want more than anything: happiness.
This means we’ll be poking around in some unexpected areas of your life. This holistic approach is the only way to truly declutter your life. During my years consulting with clients about their health, I learned they were having daily struggles outside of their health. As with all my books, my goal is to motivate, educate, inspire, and help you master all the habits that will make your life simpler and happier.
As with any changes in life, there’s usually some pain involved. But from my experience, if you’re willing to put up with a little discomfort (or in some cases, a lot) to make those changes, I believe we’ll accomplish great things together. And believe me, I’m no one special. I have no superhero powers. If I can make these changes so can you. You might even do a better job than I have.
I want you to realize that, even though we’re all part of a bigger system that influences us in one way or another, we’re ultimately in control of our lives, and more importantly our results. Politicians aren’t responsible for making our lives better. The news media isn’t responsible. Celebrities—aren’t responsible. We are responsible, and that’s a good thing.
In the end, we’re all imperfect people who want to have more happiness and less stress. To me being 50 pounds overweight, in debt, having little or no savings for retirement, being stressed out, working a job you hate, or worrying about how many friends you have or how many likes you get on social media, has nothing to do with having less stress and more happiness.
Pursuing happiness on another person’s terms certainly isn’t consistent with being happier and less stressed. As with most things in life, a happier, more peaceful life comes, not when there’s nothing more to get, but when there’s nothing left to weigh you down. If you agree, you will really like what The Simple Life is all about.
With that said, I want to leave you with my favorite quote from Albert Einstein:
“Any fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius‑and a lot of courage‑to move in the opposite direction.”
In other words, true genius is not the mastery of complexity, but of simplicity.