Marie Kondo is known for her helpful tips in cleaning and organizing things. Her mindset in cleaning is simple: keep the things that spark joy, and throw away those that don’t. (In other words, decluttering). These things that can be either kept or thrown away can be anything found in your home. After applying her mindset into your cleaning process, most likely you’ll end up having more things to throw away than to be kept. Materialistic people would most likely have a painful experience in discarding things.
“For hoarders, objects can represent comfort and security,” says James Gregory, a clinical psychologist and expert on hoarding at the University of Bath. In the most extreme cases, hoarding is recognised as a medical disorder that can rob people of their quality of life. One study by researchers at Yale University used brain scans to show that for people with the disorder, throwing out objects activates a part of the brain that’s also responsible for processing pain.
Most of us may not feel so strongly about our possessions, but things that are tied to emotionally significant memories can nevertheless represent a piece of your identity that is difficult to discard. When you struggle to part with that jersey you wore on the junior varsity basketball team, for example, you are not really clinging to the shirt itself. Instead, you’re hanging onto the memories represented by that now-tattered item of clothing you probably won’t wear again. Its sentimental value may make giving the jersey away feel like giving up a piece of your own identity, says Gregory.
But can throwing away things “that no longer spark joy” really lead to a better and happier life? This is what science has to say.
Scientific research suggests Kondo is on to something and the effects of tidying can leave us feeling invigorated and satisfied.
“One of the obvious advantages to a tidy house is that being able to easily locate things will cause you less stress,” says Chris Stiff, a lecturer in psychology at Keele University. There is evidence that tidy environments help us think more clearly. For example, researchers at the University of Navarra found volunteers made more mistakes inputting data in a messy environment, than in a neat one.
Know more details about the study over at BBC.
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