Why we sometimes need clutter

change is a process energy habits May 27, 2023

Are you the kind of person that is constantly looking for things?  I don’t mean the what-did-I-come-in-here-for moments, I mean, it’s time to go – do you have what you need to walk out the door, or do you need to search first? 

If you can find what you need when you need it, you are organized, no matter what it looks like. Organized and orderly are not the same. 

For many of us, when we see spaces that are clean and orderly, it imparts calm.  It’s soothing to look at things when they are placed neatly or even better, out of sight.  Papers in a folder in a file cabinet are easier find than papers strewn about on a desktop. 

Ahhhh - what we need is exactly where it’s supposed to be. That peaceful feeling is what we desire most.

Living in a peaceful environment promotes a calm heart that allows creativity to flourish.  But if you can’t find what you need when you need it, there goes that peaceful feeling. Instead, we’re left with discomfort, confusion and frustration.

Our inner state creates our outer world.

Clearing my space last summer (read about it here) opened the door to a completely new direction. I began playing with jewelry-making and designing crochet earrings to sell. My pieces can be found at The Sage Elephant in Rogers, AR, and my new Etsy shop is almost complete.

Organizing my physical surroundings cleared space for an entirely new direction, a direction that more authentically aligns with my soul.  Had I not cleared the boxes of paper and released the energy that was stored and locked away, I may have ignored my crochet calling for a much longer time.

It was the desire for order that started that journey. Becoming organized is an inside job, while being orderly is an outside job. 

It’s a beautiful thing when they work together.

But, but – what about clutter? 

Clutter is bad, right?

It’s a mixed bag.  Research has shown that messy desks promote creativity while tidy desks promote conformity.  The photo above is Einstein’s desk. It’s a complete mess. Yet, he allowed his brain to open to new insights when he ignored his surroundings and played the violin.

A pristine environment may promote more healthy behaviors, but a cluttered environment can stimulate diverse thinking.  When we force ourselves to conform to an orderly look on the outside while our inside finds comfort in a messy environment, there is only frustration.

Clutter is a matter of personal preference.  It can make some anxious, but for others, clutter can be comforting.  Extreme cases, of course, exist on both ends of the spectrum.  We have hoarders and we have the KonMari tribe, but for the most part, we all live in a combination of both clutter and order.

Your personal comfort level will be related to how you were raised.  If you grew up in a cluttered home, that is what will be comfortable. Or, the exact opposite can happen.  A cluttered childhood becomes your motivation for order. 

It’s OK to create a space that supports you.

Make peace with what works

Georgia O’Keefe made peace between clutter and order. Several years ago, I toured her home in Abiquiu, New Mexico to see where she created her art. Her inspiration was everywhere: tiny Jimsonweed flowers sprinkled the yard outside, the iconic ladder leaned by the door in her hacienda patio, the huge bovine skull decorated a wall.

The tour guide (who was Miss O’Keefe’s cook’s daughter and had spent many hours with her) shared that Miss O’Keefe wanted nothing to rob her of her light. Cabinets were recessed into the walls and everything was painted white.

Yet, on her morning walks, she was always casting her eye about for interesting rocks. Every exposed tree stump had pretty stones lined up where she had placed them, and the deep window sills in her home were decorated with stones she collected. 

Someone else might think those stones were clutter, but Georgia O’Keefe realized what it took to stay inspired.  The space between order and clutter was her playground.

Where is yours?

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