Note: This is a guest post from Lisa Avellan of Simple and Soul.
There is nothing quite like the calm of everything as it should be. It’s something I’m more familiar with now that life is simpler, but still the calm never gets old.
The calm comes when the beds are made, dishes are washed, and the counters are clear. When space, exposed and bare, welcomes me home as if offering a place to lay down my anxiety, the unfinished tasks of the day, and all the ways I feel unproductive or small.
When the exterior of my life reflects the intentions of my internal life, only then am I able to escape the hustle of worthiness and allow the calm to change the atmosphere. I find myself whole, complete and content.
The calm of everything as it should be, as elusive as it may be at times, feels natural to my soul. It’s a nurturing habitat that requires little beyond the few essentials for living, my loved ones close, and a great cup of coffee.
Trouble comes when things—like our possessions, busyness, or unexpected circumstances—throw the calm into disorder. When clutter creeps in under our distracted noses, a busy week turns into a season of hustle, or the unfortunate diagnosis or job loss disrupts the flow of life, the calm becomes an indulgent treat we crave rather than the standard by which we live.
Calm as a standard is pretty far-fetched, though. I mean, who do you know that describes their life as calm? And if they do, it’s rarely positive. Calm implies boring, uninspired, attention severing. Let’s be honest, we are in competition for people’s attention. They’ve got email and push notifications blowing up their phones, birthday parties to attend, and committees to chair. Not many people have time for calm.
In a culture that celebrates busy, excess, and extroversion as the measure of a good life, where is there space in our homes and lives for calm, quiet, and simple? For things to be as they should be?
And what does should even mean? What is it that my things should be doing?
I think the answer, at least in part, is in this quote by William Morris, “Have nothing in your homes that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”
The things we own (or do) should be useful, having purpose in our regular way of life, or they should be beautiful, life-giving external joys that reflect our internal peace and calm. It is the natural state of our souls, to be and surrounded by the useful and the beautiful.
Of course, looking at a home full of stuff we’ve spent good money on or at one time had need for, calm can seem an unlikely hope. But, just because it’s not obvious doesn’t mean some of your things can’t, or shouldn’t, emit calm and joy and love.
To begin, it can be helpful to separate the useful and beautiful things from those that aren’t. Here are four simple guidelines for achieving calm at home:
Everything has a home
Many things in our space contribute to stress, but just the right amount of the right things effect a calming atmosphere. By designating a specific place for each of our possessions, and diligently returning it when we are finished using it, our things require less energy and create less stress.
When everything has a home, we are more purposeful about what we own—if it doesn’t have a home, maybe its purpose no longer serves us.
Everything has a purpose
Usefulness is essential to creating calm. Possessions that have outlived their usefulness contribute to stress, clutter, and decision fatigue—a condition where calm cannot survive. By owning only what we use, and eliminating what no longer serves us, we create a home free of excess and a mind free of regret.
Everything has a grace
The calm of purposeful ownership nurtures the condition of gratitude. We pour thanksgiving over the dishes that we serve food on, the blankets that keep us warm, and the car that gets us to work. We value doing things with our hands—like hand washing dishes or hanging laundry to dry—and choose to give away a bit more rather than keep just in case.
Gratitude calms the ache of want with enough.
Everything has an end
Our things will not last forever. Their purpose will expire, their parts will break, and their meaningfulness will dull. It seems, the more we amass in our homes the less we appreciate the value of the lifespan of what we own.
This is particularly true with sentimental items. We overvalue the lifespan of the item and undervalue the emotional effect of holding on to it. The calm of things as they should be is often on the other side of letting go, because some of our things should be let go.
The calm of things as they should be is where our souls come alive. When we design an external life of calm by making beds or clearing counters or letting go, we awaken something deeper—the internal life of contentment.
Lisa Avellan writes at Simple & Soul, helping you simplify life so you can uncover your soul and live joyfully just as you are. You can find her on Facebook and Instagram for more simple living inspiration.