Happiness is an elusive concept. What truly makes us happy? Love? Money? Chocolate? Puppies? Being organized?
Psychologists and self-helpers tell us that the cornerstones of our happiness, give or take a few, are meaningful work, personal connection, health, and adding value to ours or others’ lives. We all know that happiness comes from within and spreads outward from there--and that it definitely isn’t dependent upon when you get the new iPhone.
But what you may not know is that being organized also leads to happiness. I kid you not.
Studies have shown that outer order is directly related to inner calm. Gretchen Rubin, best-selling author of The Happiness Project, says that “creating order gives a huge boost in energy, cheer, and creativity.” She is a big proponent of keeping her home neat and streamlined ever since she noticed how much more relaxed it makes her feel. She says that being organized makes her a better writer, a better mother, and a happier person.
With organizing, I always say that it’s all in the details--that’s where the real satisfaction comes in. As the often-quoted British writer Samuel Johnson observed, “It is by studying little things that we attain the great art of having as little misery and as much happiness as possible.” Nice to have Dr. Johnson on my side!
Without exception, all my clients report higher productivity and peace of mind when their space is clutter-free and organized. Organized people tend to be faster at accomplishing tasks because they don’t have to waste time searching under piles of stuff for that elusive thing. And they naturally get more done because, as a result, they have more time to do it in. Call it a happy circle.
A few blogs back I mentioned feng shui, and how following these ancient Chinese principles can create a sweet living space. You know how sometimes you walk into a place and it just feels good? People remark on how it has “great energy?” That simply doesn’t happen when you walk into a space that’s messy, chaotic, or overflowing with clutter. The energy is stale, and you feel it the minute you open the door.
As we wrap up Get Organized month, I hope you’re feeling good about having taken on some challenges in your life and imposing some order in your home. I know I am. My kitchen has been deep cleaned, utensils have been purged, and my closet is looking good enough to include on a house tour. Organizing is a lifetime process, not a one-time event. I’ll continue chipping away at these tasks whether I have a big chunk of time or a small slice. Step by step.
Still, I’m not naive enough to think that a good-looking file drawer and a pretty rainbow of sweaters are the source of my true happiness. But I will say that when my house is clean and organized and I walk through the front door, I feel a sense of relief. Order brings a sense of “being on top of things” that makes me feel productive. Then when my house and office are organized, I have more time to devote to the things I care about--things that really make me happy.
Like meaningful work, friends, family, Mister Cat, pilates, hiking, skiing,... and maybe even that new iPhone.