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Empty your house to make space in your mind for happiness

Empty your house to make space in your mind for happiness

| JAN 6, 2017

You only have to open the newspaper (or the internet) and you’re bombarded with articles about how to live more mindfully and in the ‘now’.  It’s the latest health trend.  And rightfully so.  Being more aware of the present moment can do wonders for leading a happy life.  But the benefits of mindfulness don’t just apply to the mind, they work for the home too.  In fact, it’s an important part of the mindfulness journey.  There’s a fascinating study by professor Sabine Kastner from Princeton University that proves that the clutter around you affects productivity, concentration, stress, anxiety and your state of mental clarity.  So, if you’re looking to upgrade to a happier more efficient lifestyle, it’s not a bad idea to start with clearing out your old stuff. 

Why do we hold on to so much cr*p?!

Sentimentality.  It’s definitely one answer.  But in my opinion, the majority of the time we use it as an excuse.  Take a DVD for example – let’s say it’s the first movie you watched with your loved one, we’ll hold onto it because we think it’s a precious memory.  But it isn’t.  Watching the film is, but the plastic shell you’re holding on to isn’t.  It’s important to realise that by throwing out the DVD you’re not losing the memory.  Once you build this level of awareness it’s so much easier to let it go and pass it onto a charity shop for someone else to enjoy.

bare-biology-better-in-30-Vicky-Silverthorn-Professional-organiser-Empty your house to make space in your mind for happiness

Photograph by Samuel Zeller. 

You can apply this way of thinking to almost anything in your home.  DVDs, old clothes or a mass of old college work.  Be selective.  Of course it makes sense to keep things youll use again, but not when they’re renting so much space in your home and adding little value to your everyday life.  Ask yourself questions like, what does this mean to me?  When was the last time I used this? When will I use it again? Don’t underestimate how much space these simple questions can create.

 I encourage my clients to take a glance at the spines and titles of each book and consider whether they would read it again.  More often than not, about 20% are binned.

So many of my clients are book lovers.  These can be some of the hardest possessions to let go.  I once read that books are like companions; they can make us laugh, teach us new things and keep us company when we feel alone. We wouldn’t dream of throwing a friend out of our home.  We accumulate books, but they command so much space and cause a lot of clutter affecting our mental clarity.  I encourage my clients to take a glance at the spines and titles of each book and consider whether they would read it again.  More often than not, about 20% are binned.   The shelves are freshened up, space is gained and our minds feel less cluttered. We don’t realise that what we valued three years ago, may no longer be relevant to where we are in our lives today.   That’s why it’s so important to practice mindfulness in the home. It keeps our environment meaningful to who we are right now, and we gain a lot more space in the process.

So what now? bare-biology-better-in-30-health-Vicky-Silverthorn-Professional-Organiser-Empty your house to make space in your mind for happiness-photo-by-Jazmin-Quaynor

Photograph by Jazmin Quaynor. 

Don’t get me wrong.  I completely understand that it’s hard building up the motivation and time to work through old possessions.  There’s nothing more off putting than the thought of clambering into your loft and spending the whole day working through boxes of moth torn clothes that you were intending to wear ‘someday. Particularly in this day and age when we’re all so busy we even have to remind ourselves to breathe.  But I challenge you to spare just 20 minutes of your evening, everyday, working on a space in your home.  That’s all it takes.  Over the next 4 weeks I’ll guide you through specific areas, but below I’ve listed some basic principles to follow.

During your 20 minutes of mindfulness at home practice the following:

  • Focus on one area e.g. a closet
  • Pull everything out and place it in one corner
  • Sit with a bag ready
  • Ask yourself:
    • What have I given no attention to for a while?
    • When will I use it again?
    • Can I live without this?
    • What can I absolutely not live without?
    • Who in my life would appreciate this more than me?
    • What possessions in my home, that are stored somewhere else, should sit in this space?

Living with less isn’t about minimalism.  It’s about being in control of your life and home.  It’s about keeping what we use and need, so that our space serves us rather than hinders us.  Our offices should be organised in a way that helps us be more productive.  Our kitchens should be laid out to help us eat better. Our bedrooms should make us feel relaxed for a better night’s sleep.  The impact your space has on your wellbeing is remarkable.  I can’t wait to take you through this journey over the next 30 days for a better home and, ultimately, a better you.


Vicky Silverthorn is your Better in 30 Professional Organiser.  Vicky will declutter your home and your mind so you can stick to your New Year’s resolutions.  Vicky is the author of ‘Start with your Sock Drawer’ and Founder of You Need a Vicky, a professional organisation company.  She’s helped to streamline the homes of A-list clients from Suki Waterhouse, Ayda and Robbie Williams to Jamie Dornan and Jonathan Ross.  Now she’s here to help you.

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