A Little Happier: All This Junk Is an Expression of Love

One of my favorite Secrets of Adulthood is Outer order contributes to inner calm.”

That’s because I’m continually surprised by the fact that for most people, outer order contributes to a sense of inner calm, energy, and self-command. It’s not true for everyone, but it’s true for most people.

This connection fascinates me. In the context of a happy life, a messy kitchen counter or a disorganized desk is a trivial issue, obviously, and yet disorder weighs us down more than it should.

That’s why I make my bed every day, why I follow the one-minute rule, and why I write about hacks for clearing clutter in my book Outer Order, Inner Calm.

Relatedly, in my book Better Than Before, I write about something that I found somewhat surprising: Clearing clutter also helps us stick to our good habits and make big change.

A friend once told me, “I finally cleaned out my fridge, and now I know I can switch careers” — and I knew exactly how that felt.

A good clutter-clearing makes me feel more energetic, more creative, and more in command of myself. And I know where my keys are!

So I see the value of clearing clutter. But sometimes, we don’t want to clear clutter. Or we want to have the space and the organization, but we just can’t let go of things.

And when I thought about it, I realized one reason why that might be.


Maybe you’re trying, unsuccessfully, to persuade your parents to give away all the toys, schoolwork, and trophies that they’ve been storing since your childhood. Or maybe you just can’t bring yourself to toss any of your husband’s ragged t-shirts from college.

When you can’t figure out why it’s hard to make progress, remember: it may be that all this junk is an expression of love.




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