Most people like to think mess isn’t really a problem.
It’s annoying. It’s distracting. It certainly doesn’t look nice. But it isn’t a big deal.
But the truth is mess impacts us more than we think. And in ways that are mostly unconscious.
As human beings we’re continually responding to our environment. It’s part of being human. There’s no getting away from it.
So when your desk is a mess – or your kitchen – or your bedroom, it’s affecting you.
A little boy and his monkey
This lesson hit home for me this week when, on Monday morning, I walked by my son’s perfectly tidy room to see his stuffed monkey carefully tucked into bed. I stopped dead in my tracks and ran for the camera. My son is almost seven and has never before made his bed. It was a picture-worthy moment.
But what does this have to do with how mess affects you?
You see, I had spent Saturday clearing out and cleaning his room.
And far from complaining about my having removed most of his toys, he was delighted. He played happily in his room with things he hasn’t touched in months. He also put his things away on his own, without whining or crying or even complaining.
Come Monday morning he got up, got dressed and even tucked his monkey back into bed rather than throwing it on the floor as usual. He started the day happy and charming – it was delightful.
A change of scene changed everything
But the kitchen was a mess that same morning. Shockingly so. It looked like nefarious elves had been in there during the night.
And within minutes the charming little boy I came downstairs with was throwing a fit about having peanut butter on his toast and whether he was going to take fruit to school for snack.
Coincidence? I think not.
Human beings are affected by their environment.
And you can consciously chose to use that to your advantage – or it will unconsciously work to your disadvantage.
So what would you be doing if your desk wasn’t a mess?
Or if your dining room table wasn’t covered in paperwork or your craft room crammed with unfinished projects?
What are you not doing because of how your home looks or feels right now?
I’ll bet you have a least a few things on that list. (Don’t worry, so do I.)
What would life be like if your environment encouraged you to do the things you wanted – whether writing a book, inviting friends round for dinner or learning to paint?
My own experience is that life is so much more enjoyable when my home is helping me rather than making me want to numb out.
When rooms are messy and feeling overfull, I tend to ignore what I want to be doing. My life becomes smaller. I don’t bother doing things that bring me joy because it feels like too much effort. It’s easier just to hole up in one room and work – or watch tv.
Changing your home will change your life
I tell people this all the time. It’s the basis for my work.
But I don’t mean buying things or having a bigger, fancier house will make you happier.
Not at all.
Changing your home changes your life because when you start to consciously shape it into a place that supports you, you’ll find yourself paying more attention to what you want and making different choices in your life. You’ll feel more alive to what’s important to you – and you’ll feel more inspired to make room for those things in your life.
And that to me is even better than a designer sofa.
So where do you start?
You start by acknowledging what you would be doing if the space wasn’t the way it is now. What you would be doing if it didn’t feel like an obstacle in your life.
Then you clear out the old stuff, the extra stuff, the too-muchness. You let go of anything and everything that doesn’t support you and your spirit in doing what you want to be doing.
And when you are ready, you carefully select what you want to bring in, both in terms of how it functions and how it makes you feel.
It’s an internal journey that you then make visible in how you change your physical space.
But first, you must know what you would be doing if your space wasn’t a mess.
Your environment can be a source of soothing and calm so you feel inspired to tuck your stuffed monkey into bed – or it can irritate and agitate you such that even normal things cause you to throw a fit. You don’t have a choice about whether your physical environment affects you – but you do have a choice about whether you consciously create one that supports you.
How would your life be different if your physical environment inspired you rather than dragged you down?
Now it’s your turn
I would love to hear from you in the comments below about what you would be doing if your space was inspiring and supporting you.
Ready to move beyond your own messy spaces and into what you want to be doing?
I’m getting ready to unveil the results of my interview project so far. But before I do, if you would like some free advice about where to start with creating a home you love click here to book your own interview – in exchange I’ll answer your questions in a complimentary Design Vision Consultation.