Most of us naturally want our homes clean. We recycle, declutter, or donate things that we no longer use. We do this to have an organized home and to have room for new things. Imagine if this practice of decluttering our homes becomes a practice when it comes to decluttering our lives.
In a world with increased access and almost everything at our fingertips, we accumulate clutter every single day. Whenever we scroll through our social media, watch a TV show, or listen to music, we either consciously or unconsciously pick up bits of worldly mental clutter. Sometimes, we think that because these bits of clutter are so tiny, they won’t cause any harm. The problem is that they pile up and take so much space in our minds that we no longer have space for things that really matter. And worse, as our minds become accustomed to the clutter of the world, bigger clutter becomes less of a nuisance.
Other factors that contribute to our cluttered lives could be past disappointments, hatred, guilt, heartache, failed expectations, envy, past mistakes, or other unpleasant feelings. Clutter is not necessarily bad. Sometimes it consists of countless good choices and priorities that we try so hard to fit into our already-occupied life.
So how do we declutter our lives? Here are a few ideas from church leaders we could learn from.
William R. Bradford—Unclutter Your Life, April 1992 General Conference
In April 1992, Elder Bradford said that decluttering is more than organizing things. Decluttering is about getting rid of things that do not strengthen our spiritual foundation. He further added that in order to declutter our lives, “we need to develop a list of basics, a list of those things that are indispensable to our mortal welfare and happiness and our eternal salvation. This list must follow the gospel pattern and contain the elements needed for our sanctification and perfection.” When we know what matters most for us, we would find it easier to forgive a family member or a friend, forgive ourselves of past mistakes, serve others, delete a movie that contains inappropriate scenes, not listen to music that uses profane language, and say no to things that can potentially clutter our lives.
He also pronounced the need to examine how we use our time because essentially “we give our lives to that which we give our time.” Reflecting on our day-to-day activities and writing them down will give us a full view of where we are spending our lives. Then we can reflect if these things are worth spending our time, considering that time spent is something we can never get back.
Dallin H. Oaks—Good, Better, Best, October 2007 General Conference
In one of his sermons, Dallin H. Oaks emphasized that there are many good things that we can do but he cautioned that “it is not enough that something is good” because “other choices are better, and still others are best.“ He admonished to consider the choices we make and ensure that we do not spend too much for that which is good and leave little time for that which is better and best.
With countless options of good things that we can pursue, Elder Oaks implored that divinely appointed responsibilities in the family should not be infringed by other worthy activities. He further encouraged that “we have to forego some good things in order to choose others that are better or best because they develop faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and strengthen our families.”
Decluttering our lives does not happen overnight, but in order to achieve a cluttered-free life, we need to start somewhere. We can begin with our closets at home, applications on our mobile phones, or the TV series we watch that consume hours and hours of our lives. Then we can move to determining what good activities we can give less of our time to, so we can give more of our time to the things that matter most.
Decluttering will bring peace, ease our burdens, and lead to greater joy. It is not a ‘nice to do’ item that we can add to our to-do list, but a Christ-like virtue that is worth pursuing, for God delights in plainness, simplicity, and choosing the “good part” of that which is good.