Space Management Reveals Cultural Values Too

I remember a friend of mine named Jennifer who lived in a very far city from where I was staying. She lived in Long Beach and I was living in the northern part of the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles.

One day, after we talked on the phone, I decided to pay her a visit. Three hours later— believe me, Los Angeles freeway traffic jams are no picnic— I was talking to her face to face. What really blew my mind about this moment, as beautiful as she was, is the clutter she chose to live in.

It’s as if she got all these moving boxes and filled it up with her stuff as she moved from point A to point B. So far so good right? After all, this should be quite familiar because this is how most Americans move. They pack up all their stuff and put it in boxes as the get from one point to the next.

Here’s the problem with my friend. She never got to the point of unpacking so there were all sorts of clutter. It’s as if she lived in a warehouse. She would go from room to room without lifting a finger or moving boxes around. The place looked like a jungle.

She did well enough to make sure that the toilet was clean and that she bussed her kitchenware when she chose to eat, but that’s pretty much it. Guess what happened to my friend?

She had a tough time getting a good job. She would jump from job to job. She had a tough time making up her mind.

Well, it really all boils down to cultural values. I’m not talking about her cultural values as a white, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant female. I’m talking about her values as an individual person.

When you have so much clutter, your sense of possibility and your sense of adventure are the first ones to go. It’s really hard to feel proactive in such a cluttered space.

Your space has a massive impact on your psychology. As the old saying goes, “If you want to achieve big things, think big.” It’s really hard to think big when you are in a claustrophobic and highly-cluttered space.

It is no surprise that my friend suffered from all sorts of anxiety and depression because she did it to herself. She could’ve unpacked. Believe me. Things really turned out differently for her when I had the idea of helping her get rid of the clutter.

We unpacked the stuff. We put the stuff where it needed to go. We cleaned up our space and she was out of that funk she was in for a long time.

It’s as if her psychic clouds and emotional fog burned up overnight. It felt like I was talking to a completely different person. Welcome to a clutter-free space. If she can do it, you can do it too.