Ever feel like you’re drowning in clutter? According to recent statistics on clutter, Americans/ obsession with stuff is costing us time and money —- resources that most of us would rather spend on other things.

  • We wear 20 percent of our clothing 80 percent of the time.
  • Twenty-five percent of two-car garages don’t have room to park cars in them.
  • There is a direct correlation between cortisol (stress) levels and the density of objects in our houses.
  • Approximately 10 percent of American households rent a storage unit for their overflow possessions, at a cost of $1,000 or more a year.
  • Eliminating clutter would reduce the amount of time you spend cleaning your home by 40 percent.
  • Nearly a third of Americans report that cleaning their closets is more satisfying than sex.

You can probably identify at least a half dozen areas of your life that need decluttering right now. None of us is immune to clutter and the longer you ignore it, the more the stuff you own will start owning you.

Decluttering is a spiritual necessity

Clutter is an unavoidable consequence of consumer culture. When we declutter, we make a conscious decision to turn over a new leaf and reject the misguided notion that things could ever lead to happiness or personal fulfillment.

But material things aren’t the only source of clutter in our lives. Non-material clutter is often more spiritually damaging than the boxes of clothes stacked in your spare room or the piles of plastic toys taking up space in your garage. Donating or discarding unused possessions is a good start, but don’t stop there. Use it as a catalyst to begin the more difficult process of decluttering your emotional and spiritual life.

  • Regrets – A lot of us go through life carrying a bag full of regrets. Whether it’s things we did or things we didn’t do, regrets weigh us down, like the clutter in our houses. Worse yet, they hold us back from trying new things or becoming better versions of ourselves.
  • Unhealthy Goals – There’s nothing wrong with having goals. But sometimes our goals are unhealthy, especially if ambition drives us to achieve things that don’t line up with our spiritual or moral values. For example, when the desire to earn a living morphs into an obsession to become filthy rich, it’s time to clean house.
  • Relationships – Purging relationships from your life gets dicey. I’m not talking about cleaning up your friends list on Facebook. I’m talking about distancing yourself from friends or even family members who are no longer supportive or represent a positive influence in your life. Sometimes you have to walk away from those relationships to move forward, especially if the relationship has turned toxic.

How to declutter your soul

The concept of decluttering has a long history in Christianity and other religions. In Matthew 10, Jesus sent the disciples out without any money or spare clothes; in Luke 14, he told his followers that taking up the cross might require them to “declutter” their relationships and leave behind family members. It’s similar to the philosophy of detachment found in Buddhism and Hinduism.

Ready to get started? Here are several things you can do to declutter your soul and improve your spiritual health:

  1. Take inventory. Spend a few minutes each day evaluating the material and non-material clutter in your life. If it isn’t useful anymore or if it’s weighing you down and holding you back, add it to the list of things that are ripe for removal.
  2. Create a plan. Create a plan to eliminate each area or piece of clutter from your life. If you can, donate material possessions to a local charity. For non-material clutter, consider practical steps you can take to change unhealthy behaviors, relationships or obsessions.
  3. Don’t replace old clutter with new clutter. Avoid replacing unhealthy goals or relationships with new ones, at least for now. Over time, you may discover removing negative things from your life creates space for positive ones. But for the time being, focus on enjoying the freedom of living your life without unnecessary burdens or distractions.