Our Life Is Affected by Excess Clutter That Weighs Us Down

It was a necessary realization to me how much living among excess clutter could harm my health, physically and emotionally. We may think it is just a cleaning process, but the depth of the problem will open our eyes to realize how and why the effect of clutter weighs us down. Why it is hard to unclutter? Why can’t it be organized? Why is more clutter mounting up? Emotionally attached objects are hard to get rid of. New attractive items are found in markets all the time. Consequently, clutter can easily mount up in one’s life.

Clutter and disorganization impairs productivity. By knowing these facts as problems, we can start searching for the solutions to make our life so much easier. I wanted to find solutions as I was living with excess clutter! I will be introducing a practical method to end excess clutter called “Danshari. ” Danshari is a new notion of de-cluttering that has been prevalent in Japan. The idea includes the concept of removing the emotional burden that comes with having too many items.

Furthermore, Danshari teaches people to let go of their burdens and make clear plans for a better future. We need to understand that clutter is created by unorganized people who are creating physical and mental danger for themselves. Physically, if one lives in a cluttered house, one probably doesn’t eat well, because the kitchen isn’t functional. The person most likely doesn’t even know what is in the refrigerator and whether or not their food is contaminated.

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Tolin, Director of the Anxiety Disorders Center at the Institute of Living in Hartford, CT, and an adjunct associate professor of psychiatry at Yale, “Hoarding is not just a house problem; it’s also a person problem. ” (Tolin, Frost, & Steketee, 2007) The person needs to fundamentally change their behavior. The victims of this excess clutter problem would be the clinically defined hoarders; however, many people can find problems similar to the hoarder’s behaviors. I must state that the hoarders I am referring to are different from collectors, as an expert explains as follows: A definition of hoarding that discriminates clinical hoarding syndromes from collecting and normal saving involves: (a) the acquisition of, and failure to discard, a large number of possessions that appear to be useless or of limited value; (b) living spaces sufficiently cluttered so as to preclude activities for which those spaces were designed; (c) significant distress or impairment in functioning caused by the hoarding. ” (Steketee & Frost, 2006) Hoarding has been reported in a variety of disorders. One of the problems is that hoarding involves the inability to discard worthless or worn out items.

Some individuals firmly believe that all personal objects have emotional attachments. Consequently, they are unable to separate themselves from emotionally charged items that they feel holds some sort of personal memory. Those people may object to an uncluttering proposal because they may think and feel that all items are essential and they are unable to differentiate between essential and non-essential items. It is an understandable time consuming process; however, one must realize that failure to organize and de-clutter will often result in decreased feelings of well-being.

Kupfermann (2011) in the New York Times article “The hoarder fights back,” opposes the notion that de-cluttering increases the level of mental health by demonstrating the traumatic experience of the de-cluttering process at her house. Kupfermann (2011) argued that de-cluttering, Zen-like simplicity, or Feng-Shui practice would drain our feelings and leave us with emptiness. When Kupfermann was urged to clean her house for her child’s wedding, she reluctantly agreed to de-clutter objects with her minimalist friend who suggested going through the de-cluttering process.

As Kupfermann’s memorable objects went into trash bags by the friend’s hand, she felt embarrassment, distress, and anger. After the friend declared gleefully there were ten containers to de-clutter, Kupfermann felt emptiness in her mind by losing irreplaceable memorial objects. Kupfermann (2011) addressed a noticeable drawback of de-cluttering, “Feng-shui experts will tell you that clearing the clutter is like weeding a garden to let the flowers emerge. Clear the decks and you’ll make space to let new things into your life. Kupfermann opposed, “less is not always more; sometimes it really is less. ” As a self-identified hoarder, Kupfermann falls into the expert definition of a hoarder; (a) the acquisition of, and failure to discard, a large number of possessions that appear to be useless or of limited value. It appears that Kupfermann’s feeling was fear that many hoarders experience. According to empirical evidence, many hoarder’s fear is derived from the belief that they must keep items in sight, otherwise they will lose or forget the personal value these items hold.

Kupfermann experienced emptiness which made her feel insecure. The feeling of distress, insecurity, and anxiety caused by the notion of de-cluttering is the factor that interferes most with the hoarder’s problem of organization and systematization. Furthermore, compulsive buying disorder is featured in hoarding. Donald W. Black, MD, Professor at the University of Iowa, stated that compulsive buying disorder (CBD) is characterized by excessive shopping cognitions and buying behavior that leads to distress or impairment. Black, 2007) The study of hoarders’ brain activity by Tolin, Frost, & Steketee (2007) provides evidence that hoarders have difficulty in decision making, organizing, and planning. Hoarders’ brain activities were scanned and tracked while they looked at various possessions and made decisions about whether to keep them or throw them away. The items were shredded in front of them, so they knew the decision was irreversible. When a hoarder was making decisions about throwing away items, there was increasing activity in the orbitofrontal cortex, a part of the brain involved in decision making, organizing, and planning. Tolin, 2012) Moreover, since hoarding is associated with difficulties in organizing possessions, acquiring more clutter results in an endless chain of problems for hoarders. Materialism is another dimension that contributed to hoarding problems in today’s society. A new line of products always allures shoppers despite the marketing strategy of manufactures. The shoppers can have the instant gratification of purchasing an item to improve social status and that will speak of their place in the tradition of affluence. It is apparent that oods have an important place in most consumers’ dreams, if not in their hearts. Yet it is not the goods themselves that people desire, but rather the benefit those goods provide, i. e. , an increase in comfort or pleasure, the ability to accomplish new tasks, and the perception of others when they regard what we own. Holdbrook (2002), the W. T. Dillard Professor of Marketing in the Graduate School of Business at Columbia University, defined materialism in his book, “Consumer Value : A Framework for Analysis and Research” reported on the importance a consumer attaches to worldly possessions.

According to Holdbrook (2002), materialism is a value orientation in which individuals, 1) place possessions and their acquisition at the center of their lives, and 2) believe that possessions lead to important life satisfactions. If one doesn’t see a hoarding problem, one might not identify hoarding behaviors as a high-priority problem. The awareness of a potential hoarding problem and its solution could be beneficial to anyone who is willing to consider an alternative living context and overcome problems of indecisiveness. The process may take a long time depending on the person; however, the advantages are multidimensional.

As mentioned earlier, individuals who see objects as value refers to the emotional meaning attached to the possession. With items that have a personal symbolic meaning, such as a particularly important time in their life, a radically different decision making process as a result of organization and structure will most likely take considerable time. Kupfermann’s (2011) experience with her minimalist friend resulted in her rejecting the beneficial aspects of de-cluttering. Clutter should not be referred to as weeds, as those items hold some very important memories of people’s lives.

Her friend was not attuned to Kupfermann’s feelings and item attributions, therefore Kupfermann had a traumatic experience resulting in the emergence of feelings and cognitions counter to the process of de-cluttering. One could argue that if the items are reassuring one’s feelings, one should keep the items and not necessarily discard them. It is important to take time to organize those memorable items. Through the process of organization, we will find out which objects reassure positive feelings and which do not. Memories are not in the objects themselves but they are within the individual.

If one thinks every object reassures positive feelings, one is presumably living in the past, not in present. People will achieve a significant relationship with de-cluttering objects, finding essential objects in their life. The difference is how the individual took care of these memorable items; whether to treat them as clutter or keep them as cherished memories, neatly organized and even beautifully displayed. If the item is important enough to keep as a memorable item, one would not just put the item somewhere that is hard to find, one would organize it and possibly proudly display the item.

This type of cognitive attribution and style of thought is the difference between the collectors and the hoarders. Another possible drawback of this proposal would be the time for the decision making processes that will enter into making a choice between essential and non-essential personal items. A person may raise the question as to whether or not the decision to unclutter would be correct which may cause a certain level of distress. Most people think they don’t have enough time in their day. When will people find the time to organize and dispose of items when there are numerous simultaneous decisions that need to be made?

People are proficient at making excuses. Nevertheless, we should realize that in the long term, the time it takes to search and find a cluttered item will most likely be temporally similar as the process of de-cluttering and organizing. I would like to describe “Danshari (Yamashita ,2012)”, the notion of de-cluttering that is sweeping Japan. It is written with three chinese characters that indicates respectively, refusal, disposal and separation. The proposer, Hideko Yamashita, learned this notion through the study of Yoga which taught her to “let go,” as signified with the three chinese characters.

There are psychological and religious dimensions mostly from zen which suggests the disposal of mental burden, along with the physical excess of clutter. As I am from Japan, this notion was easily accepted knowing the meaning of each chinese character. It is important to acquire the ability to distinguish what is essential to us and what is not essential in order to live positively with organized thought. It is the ability to make firm and logical decisions about what to keep and what to reject, and then engaging in the behavioral expression of disposal. One will gain control and personal reedom from the ability to emotionally separate oneself from those items that are no longer needed. There are many tips to being able to detach from emotionally charged objects. I will introduce a couple of tips; in regards to gifted items purchased by other people, if these gifts are undesirable, appreciate the kindness of the purchaser, then give the gift away to someone who can use it. When purchasing an item, consider if you already possess an item or similar item, and what is the purpose of the item you are considering purchasing. Key phrases to remember are “optimum amount,” “optimum quality”, and “optimum relationship. Keeping these concepts in one’s mind teaches a sense of function and practicality. Danshari (2002) teaches us to discard our lingering, illogical, and impractical senses. The de-cluttering practice allows us to realize and recognize the culminating effect of clutter, restricted space, and crowding which interferes with people’s ability to think clearly and act accordingly. As clutter becomes less prominent and cognitions become clearer and free of distraction, the mental condition improves and people’s quality of life improves. The most important impact achieved by Danshari (2002) is high self-affirmation.

Humans are sensitive to environmental conditions. Living in a space where all objects suit one’s preference and need, one will feel welcomed by the space. Additionally, quality objects with the highest level of emotional attachment still remain by practicing the careful selection of memorable goods. Moreover, the Danshari (2002) practice will strengthen the ability for the discernible selection of activities and people. Danshari is also utilized as a training module to help people view themselves from another perspective on how much people cling to the past.

By being able to re-orient themselves to the here-and-now, people will start to feel for the moment. References 1. Black. D. “A review of compulsive buying disorder” ncbi. nlm. nih. gov. World Psychiatry. 6 February, 2007. Web. 24 April. 2012 2. Tolin, D. F. , Frost, R. O. , & Steketee, G. “Buried in treasures: help for compulsive acquiring, saving, and hoarding. ” Oxford University Press, 2007. 3. Holdbrook, M. B. “Consumer Value: A Framework for Analysis and Research” Taylor & Francis e-Library ed. Routledge. 2002. 4. Francine, J. “Minimalism around the World: Danshari. Miss minimalist, 11 Aug. 2011. Web. 19 April 2012. 5. Kupfermann, J. “The hoarder fights back. ” Solo Syndication Ltd. News Paper article. January 2, 2011. 6. Tolin, D. F. “A Clutter Too Deep for Mere Bins and Shelves. ” Nytimes. com. The New York Times, 1 January, 2008. Web. 28 April. 2012 7. Steketee, Gail & Frost, Randy. “Compulsive Hoarding and Acquiring: Workbook. ” Oxford University Press, Nov 2006. 8. Yamshita, H. “Danshari – Hideko Yamashita official site. ” Danshari. com. Keiei Kagaku public, co, ltd. 20 April, 2010. Web. 26 April. 2012

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