Welcome to Spring, a season of new life and new beginnings. There’s a freshness and a stirring sense of promise in the air as we wake from our winter hibernation and look forward to what summer and the rest of the year will bring.
Growing up this meant little league baseball, spring soccer, rainy days (I grew up in Connecticut), and the excitement that comes along with knowing that school was soon to be letting out for the summer.
It also meant spring cleaning time for my mom.
She had us all go through our closets and drawers and pull-out clothes that no longer fit. Then she’d have us help her and my dad sift through the basement and garage looking for clutter. The neighborhood would organize a yard sale (we called them “tag” sales back East) and anything still left over we’d load up in the van for donation. Every spring, same cycle.
Oh, how we used to dread it. It was a lot of work, boring, and took away from playtime. It was a heck of a lot easier to just leave the clutter alone. But now as an adult I appreciate what my mom was doing and the lesson she was trying to impart on us – the value of purging the unnecessary to make room for the necessary.
What’s necessary is the calm, clarity, and peace that comes with making space in our lives. Space to be ourselves. Space to enjoy what’s around us. Space to be present with those whom we love.
The clutter in our lives can be a real problem. Carolyn and I often marvel at how quickly the clutter in our house can mount up and cause us stress (although with three kids at home, we really shouldn’t be so surprised). On a different extreme, others suffer from hoarding or have family members that do. You may know some. It’s very challenging, certainly after there’s been a death as we’ve seen in our practice.
However, the clutter is not all about the piling up of physical items. Many of us at times can feel overwhelmed by our thoughts, emotions, and worries or struggle with stress or anxiety about the tasks we need to complete. That’s mental clutter, and it’s the most difficult kind. For some, it can be debilitating.
It comes as no surprise as our mind is the basis of everything we experience. So how can you discover how to get a simplified, calm mental state, and reclaim the time and emotional energy given up by overthinking and anxiety? Train your mind daily.
Here are some guidelines:
- Declutter Your Thoughts ( deep breathing and reframe negative thoughts)
- Declutter Your Life Obligations (identify core values, say “no” more often)
- Connect to Your Passions (daily)
- Declutter Your Relationships (be more present, get unstuck from the past, let go)
- Declutter Your Surroundings (simplify your home, digital life, activities & reduce distractions)
For more further reading and guidelines, check out:
- “Decluttering Your Mind” by Barrie Davenport & S.J. Scott
- “Designing Your Life” by Bill Burnett & Dave Evans
- “Atomic Habits” by James Clear
So, in the spirit of spring cleaning, we encourage you to take some time to sift through the basements and garages of your mind and clear the mental clutter that might be holding you back from being more focused and mindful in your daily life.
The open space will be freeing, good for your soul, and help you enjoy the wonderful life around you.
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Kevin Snyder is a husband, father, and an Orange County estate planning attorney and elder law attorney. He is all about family and has a passion for educating his community. He enjoys helping people protect what matters most and inspiring them to be the best versions of themselves they can be.