Not only are you full of crap, you’re full of multiple stacks of crap. You’re full of crap because you don’t know everything and yet you feel justified in telling other people how to live their lives. You’re full of crap because the information you’re sharing with the world comes from apocryphal, if not completely erroneous, sources of information. You’re even full of crap because your home is full of stuff you don’t actually need.
Let’s think about that last sentence. Do you care enough about that device, toy, or whatever expenditure, to pay for it for the rest of your life? Every single thing you spend your money on either serves a useful purpose or it does not. I hear people complain frequently in the U.S. about how we have to now live in a society where more than one person in a household has to earn money for a family to make ends meet. They say that as they play on their game systems, watch their subscription television (ignoring their bookshelf entirely), talk on their multiple wireless mobile devices with unlimited data plans and the latest phone even though their last phone worked just fine, drive multiple cars with horrible gas mileage, buy convenience items that take the idea of convenience to ludicrous lengths, and discard more garbage and waste in a single week than some people in other countries discard in a year. The cost of living wealth gap is certainly real, but too many people are not disciplined enough to reduce their financial output from “want” to “need.” They are making the already bad problem even worse.
It’s not entirely our fault, because it’s hard to resist the temptations being constantly hurled at us like people in an ancient city under a siege of arrows and catapults. I used to enjoy watching Shark Tank because I enjoyed the stories of how these inventions were changing the lives of their inventors for the better. I felt (and still feel) it’s a very positive television show. I loved the ingenuity being shown, and that the sharks were making dreams come true for new entrepreneurs. One day it occurred to me that the vast majority of things being brought onto the show were just more things. Yes, many of them were designed to make life more convenient, but was life going by okay without them? Yes. Some inventions potentially made other, less efficient things, obsolete. I’m a big fan of those particular new things. Some other new things are clever, but they’re really not adding that much more value to our lives. Therefore, I invite you to really think before you buy that shiny new thing. Is it adding enough value to your life for you to have to live with that new thing forever?
Another reason we buy things is to feel like we are relevant and with the times. We somehow believe that showing others our cool new things provides us with some sort of social credibility. Spending more on a functional item just to get a certain brand name is an easy example of this. If you have a bunch of stuff to carry around, is there any practical reason you need a Louis Vuitton handbag? Why do you think this is required in order for you to have social credibility? Perhaps some thought should be spent considering whether or not your life is fulfilled more by a designer handbag, or by a social circle that values you over a particular brand.
We buy things to make our lives logistically easier. That seems practical, doesn’t it? You must be thinking, “Are you seriously going to tell me I shouldn’t buy something that makes my life easier?” Well, no, but what I am going to suggest is that you apply the principles of cost-benefit analysis to your decision-making process. Is the cost (monetary, storage, clean-up, longevity, maintenance) of the object greater than the benefit it provides?
George Carlin wrote a brilliant routine on “Stuff.” It is a well-known bit which astutely pokes fun at us humans and our needs to accumulate more useless stuff. I’m not going to reprint it here; just go find it and watch it. People who live in small houses and then move to larger ones tend to fill up that larger space with more stuff. Why do they feel the need to do that? They were probably living life just fine with the stuff they had. They had a wonderful opportunity to move that same amount of stuff into a larger space and live in a cleaner, more open space. They missed out on that opportunity and immediately started filling the new open space with more crap.
Simplify. Reduce the crap cluttering up the space in which you live most of your life.
If you have ever gone through the exercise of reducing the amount of crap you live with, you probably found it to be a joyful experience in the end. You might even feel like a certain amount of weight has been lifted. This isn’t coincidence. There is energy and emotional weight attached to objects from your past. Every single item you own has an emotional string tied to it. If you’re not careful, you could find yourself trapped under the world’s biggest ball of twine. When you release unnecessary objects from your life, you release the emotional weight tied to each of them. You loose yourself of many chains, like the ones Jacob Marley’s ghost eternally hauls around. That emotional weight serves no practical purpose for you. In most cases, people keep those objects because of emotional ties to the memory associated with its acquisition. If that’s the case, do you truly believe the loss of that object will result in the loss of that memory? If you feel it would, there is a very simple solution: take a photograph. Photographs weigh nothing, and they store quite easily in a box or on a hard drive.
Some items actually lift your spirits when you look at them or use them. In that case, it’s a good thing for them to be around. I’m willing to bet that’s not true with every single thing in your home. Initially you might feel a sense of loss when certain objects are no longer living with you, but soon enough the healthy weight reduction you experience will leave you feeling lighter and perhaps even liberated. Enjoy your spacious new home.
When you have fewer unnecessary objects in your home, the liberation of the weight you’ve lost will also have a beneficial effect on how much mental and physical energy it takes to maintain all of that stuff. Your brain can only keep so many connections open at once, and when your brain has too much stuff it’s trying to keep track of, more important things might be forgotten. Clutter in the home has a way of creating a cluttered feeling in your brain. You spend more time finding things and not knowing where things are. Clutter in the home can even raise levels of the stress hormone cortisol, according to a study done by Joseph R. Ferrari and Catherine A. Roster and published in Current Psychology.
Getting Sick of Your Crap
People who have too much clutter in their home or workplace can also suffer illnesses from the accumulation of dust and other contaminants that find their way onto your stuff. Those other contaminants can include bacteria, viruses, animal dander and saliva, mites, and pollen. It can even include insect droppings and body parts. Yuck. Having too much stuff makes it increasingly difficult to keep it all clean, which will adversely affect the air quality in the place where you live or work.
According to the EPA, there are both immediate and long-term effects of having poor air quality. In the short-term it can cause eye, nose, and throat irritation. It can cause headaches, dizziness, and fatigue. In the long-term, poor air quality can cause a variety of respiratory diseases, heart disease, and even cancer. Having access to good air quality is critical to your short-term and long-term health. Having too much physical crap in your life makes it that much more difficult to achieve good air quality. It isn’t rocket science, people.
In extreme circumstances, having so much crap that it becomes a social embarrassment can even lead to self-isolation from family and friends. This can have adverse effects on relationships, but more importantly, it can adversely affect your mental health. Hoarding disorder frequently leads to depression and anxiety disorders. Having less crap makes it easier to keep your home clean and presentable to guests.
If you have too much crap, it can actually cause injury. You could leave something on the stairs one day, forget about it, slip on it, break your neck, and die. That’s right, your crap could kill you. Too much crap in your home is a fire hazard. Think about it. Nearly everything in your home is fuel for the fire. The more fuel, the bigger and hotter the flames will get. If your home is full of a big pile of burning crap, it might even impede your exit. That can’t be good.
You’re So Full of Crap It’s Actually Making You Fatter
According to a 2015 Department of Psychology study at Florida State University, shared characteristics of the majority of people with hoarding disorder suggested a strong link between hoarding and a variety of non-psychiatric conditions, including obesity. The study showed that hoarding severity was associated with increased body mass index and symptoms of binge eating. A number of other published studies found correlations between hoarding and increased body mass index. Apparently when people hoard objects, the hoarding impulse can govern their impulses for food intake as well.
I know you’re saying to yourself “I’m not a hoarder, so none of that applies to me.” I wish I had better news for you, Sunshine. Even smaller amounts of clutter here and there in the home can also be a contributing factor to weight gain. It depends on how you view the organization of your living space. Chronic stress, including that of living in a home thought of as cluttered, can stimulate your body into generating betatrophin. Betatrophin is a protein that blocks an enzyme that breaks down body fat2. Your perception of your clutter is literally keeping you from losing weight.
How does Selective Apathy factor into all of this boring science garbage? By approaching your unnecessary objects with Selective Apathy, you can more easily look at each one objectively. Detaching yourself emotionally from an object lets you analyze its practical value to you. One can select not to show interest, concern, or enthusiasm for an object just as easily as one can show I.C.E. (no Interest, Concern, or Enthusiasm) toward a person or a circumstance. Selective Apathy is all about choice. Each physical object you choose that doesn’t hold enough I.C.E. for you can be discarded or donated. You won’t be losing the memory, you’ll be losing a object. The benefits far outweigh the costs. Choosing to eliminate clutter from your life has so many benefits which are worth much more than the cost of getting rid of the clutter.
Take one of your objects in your hand. Detached from any memory associated with that object, what is that object in and of itself? Is it a piece of plastic? Is it metal? It’s simply a set of materials thrown together to make a whole object, nothing more. If it can be recycled, then recycle it. If it can be useful to someone else, donate it. If it’s cheap trash, throw it away. If you’re concerned about losing the memory, take a picture. Rinse and repeat as needed.