The Simple Life


Woman walking across landscape of clothes

By, Kian Kiasaleh   |   Arts & Entertainment Editor

January 12th, 2016

“My fingers clung on for dear life as my mom tried to pry them off my tattered hair scrunchie from the second grade,” recalled Senior Sterling Tudor. She revealed, “I really couldn’t care less about that old thing, but the thought of it being out of my life made me panic. It suddenly became the most treasured item I owned and I refused to let it go.”

Tudor, like many of us, experiences cases of hoarding. Even though we will never again wear that t-shirt, play with that old toy, or check the time on a broken watch, we form bonds with certain intimate objects. Still, we ignore them until they are at risk of being thrown away.

Most of us recognize the benefit of order, organization, and simplicity in our lives.  However, in this age of consumerism and advertising overload, it is hard to not give in to the pressure to buy and end up accumulating stuff, leading to clutter in our homes and our minds.  You do not have to be a minimalist to appreciate that having fewer things means less stress, and more meaning and greater purpose for those fewer things you own. Accumulation of stuff you do not need or rarely use will actually take away energy, productivity and clarity.  Clutter can affect your physical comfort as well as your mental well-being.  If you remove the clutter from your environment, your mental clarity improves as well.

However, some find it more difficult to reduce clutter.  A study at Yale University found that for many people letting go of clutter could be physically painful.  The research group gathered hoarders and non-hoarders and asked them to sort through junk items and make decisions on which items they can toss out.  Researchers tracked the brain activity of each participant. When a participant from hoarder group had a connection to an item and was looking to toss it out, there was increased activity in the anterior cingulate cortex region of the brain.  This is the same area of the brain that lights up when you feel physical pain.  The experiment concluded that loss of a valued possession can feel like physical pain to some people.

The following tips are for anyone with mild to severe cases of hoarding:

  • Free up space to free up your mind and energy:  get rid of unwanted, unused, outdated, broken items, don’t keep ‘spare’.
  • Save money, stop clutter, avoid collecting and over-buying.
  • Make money if you can sell items you don’t use
  • Feel better by giving what you need to charity. Others who may really need stuff you never use


PROJECT 333 was launched in 2010 and it is gaining popularity around the world with the slogan “be more with less”.  This is a minimal wardrobe challenge asking you  to dress with thirty-three items or less for three months.

Kyle Head (12), who took this challenged noted, “Although I couldn’t manage limiting my essentials down to thirty-three, I felt so much more level-headed and free of stress. Through this process, I learned to become more resourceful and make more of less.”

With fewer items in the closet, the quality and versatility of each item goes up, and it takes less energy to get dressed and feel good about it. This challenge is not just promoting a clutter-free environment.  It is also going to the heart of another modern day behavioral problem – materialism: the need to buy even when you do not have a need for something. It hurts your pocket book and your closet space.

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