When we purchase a new pair of shoes or a new set of tools, we’re not purchasing them with the intent of cluttering up our lives. We purchase them because—at least in the moment—we believe that they’ll bring us joy, comfort, convenience or utility.
All of these things are inherently good so, at first glance, why shouldn’t we add them to our lives?
The problem doesn’t become clear until weeks, months or years down the road when we look up and realize our lives have been overrun with clutter from our closet to our schedule. Minimalism gives us the tools we need to preemptively shut down the clutter that wants to enter our lives or get rid of clutter that’s already there in an effort to provide more room.
The Impact of Creating Space
Despite how it may seem, the physical, digital, mental, emotional and spiritual space that we live in has a powerful impact on the parts of our lives that we don’t generally connect with something as abstract as space. Like laughter, joy, thought and creativity. Yet, we can clearly see evidence of this intertwined relationship if look closely enough.
Here are ten ways creating space can change our life:
1. Space gives us room to purchase.
Cutting against the grains a bit, I wanted to start with a more tangible and obvious benefit to making room. By not purchasing everything we think we need, we make room for purchasing the things we truly need. When we have vetted our purchase using the tools of simplicity such as, “Does this spark joy in my life?,” and we find that it will add value, we’re able to make the purchase or acquisition without feeling either guilty or overwhelmed. Because we have the need, we have the money and we have the room.
2. Space gives us room to travel.
The more things we attach to our lives, the more things we must drag along behind us when we move. Stuff, quite literally, acts as an anchor, rooting us to a geographic location when we might otherwise be elsewhere. When you’re worried about your possessions, you have to take many time-consuming precautions before doing something as simple as leaving for a few nights. On the other hand, with fewer things, you’re able to pack your bags and entertain a spontaneous trip.
3. Space gives us room for serendipity.
Leaving room for happenstance might be one of the single greatest adventures of your life. When you handcuff life to a busy schedule, a geographic location or that precious smart phone in your hand, we’re leaving little room for the small serendipitous moments that find those who are open to them. Maybe it’s a small book shop on the corner that you would never see if you’re always in a rush. Or perhaps that handsome stranger you would hit it off with if only you looked up from your phone. Making room for life makes room for the magic of living.
4. Space gives us room to think.
It’s amazing the difference a clean workspace can make on your productivity! A clean desk and a decluttered desktop can free up the mind to think and dream. A cluttered workspace, on the other hand, is constricting both in physical space as well as mental space. Take the first step toward enhancing your ability to think well by simply removing the excess around you.
5. Space gives us room to serve.
These days, it’s a badge of honor to complain about how busy our schedule is. The less sleep we’re getting each night, the cooler we sound to others… except those who understand what a busy schedule truly means: a lack of control over your time. When we’re so busy that we can’t take time for ourselves, we’re too busy to take time for others as well. To sit and listen to a friend’s heartache. To laugh at a stranger’s clever quip in the coffee line. To take food to the widow who can’t leave her home. Service to others is more important than your busy schedule, your well-paying job or your deadlines. It’s time to make room for it.
6. Space gives us room to destress.
Clutter is stressful – every little item added to our lives is another item weighing on our lives. The stress that comes from a full inbox, a filthy desk, and a cluttered home is overwhelming. Even when we aren’t aware of its impact, we’re being weighed down mentally, emotionally and spiritually by the things that we hold on to. There are stories saturating the internet of people who report a noticeable weight being lifted off of their mind and spirit when they simplify their lives.
7. Space gives us room to create.
Creativity, like thought, can be hindered by the physical constraints of your workspace and your mind. Making room to create might mean cleaning off your workbench but it might also mean emptying your mental clutter — things you’re worrying about or ideas you’ve been mulling over for weeks — into a moleskin or a note-taking app like Evernote. Once your mind has been decluttered, you can truly begin to visualize, make sense of and connect your ideas in new, creative ways.
8. Space gives us room to love.
Relationships are often one of the most difficult things to let go of. We’re hesitant to sever ties, burn bridges or “fire” a friend. And we should be! Friendships are important and shouldn’t be taken lightly. But some friendships (if you can even call them that) are poisonous to our lives. They suck joy, drain energy, take up time and burn through resources, giving nothing in return. Those relationships must go. When your group of friends and family are people who are life-giving and encouraging and loving, you’re free and empowered to do the same.
9. Space gives us room to learn.
These days, success will go to the hybrids — the people who never stop learning, who jump at opportunity and enjoy new challenges! Giving ourselves that room to learn and explore is vital to our ability to adapt, advance and create.
10. Space gives us room to enjoy.
When was the last time you truly enjoyed something? The stress and weight of life can often be a hindrance to our joy simply by existing. They lay in our subconscious, reminding us that when we finish up whatever fun we’re having, they’ll be waiting for us. It’s difficult to enjoy anything with that kind of weight hanging over your head. Simplifying your life will allow you to live in the present instead of worrying about the future.
Give yourself the gift of space and you’ll discover the freedom and excitement that can come from doing what you love, serving others, entertaining the serendipitous moments and, yes, even buying those few possessions that add true value and joy to your life.