I believe there is a unique happiness found in simplicity; a kind of effortless freedom of being that exists in the absence of excess. This is the very essence of simplicity: having that which is needed, when it is needed – and not another thing more. I would take it a step further, and suggest the intentional absence of excess creates the tangible space for abundance. For me, abundance implies much more than mere happiness – it presumes a generosity of spirit that comes from sharing.
As a professional organizer, I teach people how to simplify their stuff and get organized using a very simple three-step method designed for everyone – everywhere. But the emphasis of my work is not how to tidy up; it’s about generating a movement of conscious consumers, collectively committed to saving the world. For some, that may seem like an audacious leap. But I affirm that purging our excess and getting organized may be the most practical way to promote sustainable life on planet Earth.
There is a sickness of clutter on this planet. It comes from our relentless hunger for cheaply manufactured products; made from toxic materials by an overworked, grossly underpaid labor force; predominantly orchestrated by wealthy con-artists without regard to civil liberties or environmental preservation. As first-world consumers, it is our collective responsibility to own up to that fact and name the elephant in the room. Our gluttony for the cheap and the too much has created a toxic pandemic of junk that now threatens the very survival of our species.
The mere act of tidying up does little to address the urgent trials facing us today, much less the impending crisis facing my daughter’s generation. Jane Goodall has famously said, “You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.” If the human condition is to seek happiness and share it with those around us, what good does it do to focus our energy and resources on such harmful drivel? Collectively, we have become fat, lethargic and stupid from our intoxicating materialism.
Simplifying our stuff and organizing our lives provides an opportunity (indeed an obligation) to become mindful of the stuff we consume – and thoughtfully share our excess with those who have less. With one in five American children living in poverty today, what items do we possess and no longer use that can be donated? How can we simplify our own needs and simultaneously support those struggling to survive the day? I guarantee, there are those near you right now who are cold, hungry and in need of something you take for granted. When we bring a little intention to our own abundance, sharing our excess becomes a tangible contribution with far-reaching impact.
If what we do matters, we can make a difference every day. Shop second-hand. Avoid cheaply manufactured goods made from known-toxic materials. Support companies that make quality products from recycled resources that provide their workforce with a living wage. Share your excess with those in need. Learn to simplify, tune into the virtues of being nimble, resourceful, and innovative. Support local, organic food production and consider a mostly plant-based diet. Volunteer. Spend more time with your family. Turn off the TV. Do whatever you can.
We’re seeing the undeniable effects of materialism unfolding before us. As our garbage seeps into the groundwater and our trash endlessly floats adrift from one continent to another; as our irreversibly changing climate continues to remind us of the imminent perils stirring; as our global population continues to explode with exponential and unrelenting vigor; as our geopolitical leadership increasingly squabble in the face of intensifying poverty – what steps will we take – in our own lives, with our own families, on behalf of a practical, sustainable future? What we do matters. And it starts at home.
Evan Zislis is author of the bestselling book ClutterFree Revolution: Simplify Your Stuff, Organize Your Life & Save the World (http://amzn.to/1M9c9fb), available on Amazon. He is founder and principal consultant of www.MyIntentionalSolutions.com, delivering hands-on organizational solutions and strategies consulting for households, businesses, teachers, and life transitions. For more information about simplifying your stuff and organizing your life, like ClutterFree Revolution on Facebook, call 970.366.2532, or email Evan@MyIntentionalSolutions.com.