The Change Agent Blog:

Clutter and the New Year

Happy New Year!

At the beginning of each year many begin to think about doing away with the old and bringing in the new. The problem is that if we keep bringing in the new while never getting rid of the old, we become overwhelmed with clutter.

As someone who recently downsized from a 2-story home to a much smaller ranch home, I can testify to how much stuff you can collect after living somewhere for 20 years including two sons* who have lived their entire lives there.

One of my speaking colleagues referenced a great article on how clutter affects us. Researchers at Yale recently identified that two areas in your brain associated with pain, the anterior cingulate cortex and insula, light up in response to letting go of items you own and feel a connection towards.clutter brain pain


This is the same area of the brain that lights up when you feel physical pain from a paper cut or drinking coffee that’s too hot. Your b that causes you physical pain. And the more you’ve committed emotionally or financially to an item, the more you want to keep it around.

We recently finished our basement because our oldest son Bryan is back living with us while he finishes college in Columbus (and we didn’t have a bedroom for him). So now I must decide which of the final decor left over from our last home will have a place in our new home. There are many emotional memories connected with many of these items yet I need to let some go (or continue to store them).

What things are cluttering your life? Not just physical things like old decor or clothing – what habits do you need to let go? What ruts have you fallen into? I consider a rut as a grave with both ends dug out yet they are comfortable and well-worn so we tend to stay in them.

For the next two weeks, I’m doing a “fast” from TV and Facebook because I find they clutter my mind more than anything else in my life and have become a rut for me. There is nothing inherently bad about either but my hope is that I’ll renew my mind with life-giving new paths that I can follow.

Drew Art Project


*While decluttering, I came up with a really creative way to use my boys’ old art projects from elementary school. I created one of these windows for each of their newly finished bedrooms. I’d be happy to share how I did this if you email me for the information.

Make it a great week!

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