A Little Happier: Someplace, Keep an Empty Shelf; Someplace, Keep a Junk Drawer.

One of the things about happiness that continually surprises me is the degree to which, for most people, outer order contributes to inner calm, and inner self-command. I write about this connection in Better Than Before, in The Happiness Project, and in Happier at Home.

This connection fascinates me; in the context of a happy life, a crowded coat closet or an overflowing in-box is trivial, and yet such things weigh us down more than they should.

That’s why I follow habits like making my bed and the one-minute rule, and why one of the most important strategies of habit formation is the Strategy of Foundation.

But as a friend reminded me,  it’s also important to have time for serendipity, for the unexpected — to make room for a little messiness in our lives.

Someplace, we need an empty shelf. And someplace, we need a junk drawer.

Agree, disagree? Do you have an empty shelf, a junk drawer — or both?

If you want to see the video where I show my empty shelf, just email me, and I’ll send you the link. The image posted above is another empty shelf I maintain. I do like an empty shelf!

Check out Yogi Tea. When it comes to enjoying life, little moments — like drinking a delicious cup of tea — can make a big difference.

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Happier listening!

  • Julia

    A junk drawer is massively helpful, I find. Sometimes there is a receipt or paper or doo-dad that you don’t have a place for but cannot figure out if you still need it or not – so if you put it in the junk drawer you don’t have to worry about it at that time. The other really important thing is to go through the drawer every so often, and actually sort and throw things out 🙂

  • Mimi Gregor

    A junk drawer is sort of a 3D version of a miscellaneous file. Just as sometimes there is no category to file a document in, sometimes there is no apparent place to stow some object that may occasionally be needed. That is where the junk drawer comes in. We have a small one in our kitchen, which holds things like paper pads, pens, scissors, a box cutter, measuring tape, and a screwdriver. (Even though the tool box is mere steps away, my husband insists on keeping one in the junk drawer.)

    I have a theory about people who live amidst clutter and mess and seem to be perpetually busy and harried. I think that the clutter itself may produce the stress. Looking around one and seeing a mess everywhere, with no restful place to fix one’s gaze certainly must contribute to it, at the very least. Rather than the place being a mess because they are too busy, I think that perhaps they are too busy because the place is a mess. After reading Marie Kondo’s books (and saying that sometimes she seems a bit extremist, and dare I say — wacko), I do concur that it makes one feel less stressed to live among things that “spark joy.” My new benchmark for buying anything is “does this spark joy in me to wear it/use it/see it?” Also a criteria for what to keep and what to toss. It’s really a wonderful feeling to have everything in your home produce a little thrill of joy when you happen to look at it.

  • Michelle

    Oh Gretchen! I LOVE Yogi tea! And I so agree, the little moments spent preparing and drinking a cup of tea makes a big difference in my day. I drink a cup of YOGI “Roasted Dandelion Spice DeTox” tea every morning. I love that it’s delicious, non GMO and organic. Also, no caffeine. Here’s my tip: Drink this tea before you’ve had anything else to eat or drink. After you’ve dropped the tea bag into your mug of hot water that has been brought to a boil, COVER (I usually use a small plate to cover my mug) and steep for 15 minutes to capture all the healthy essences. Go about your morning routine while you wait for your tea to steep. It’s all part of the tea ritual! Gretchen, your love of Yogi tea has made my day!