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Cleaning the Clutter: A Self-Analysis

Aug 20 / Todd Houston

This summer, my wife and I decided to sell our house and purchase a smaller townhouse. We’ve discussed downsizing for quite a long time. While our current home isn’t huge, it is more than we need.

You see, our children are adults now, and while our one son lives with us as he finishes his undergraduate degree, we don’t want to spend our time doing the upkeep on the house.

Once we decided to sell, we flew into a four-week daze of cleaning and organizing the things we no longer needed. I must confess that I’m a bit of a hoarder – I blame my mother for as she lived through the Great Depression. My mother would hold onto things far longer than necessary because – as she would put it, “you never know when you might need it.”

I’ve held onto course notebooks from graduate courses I took over twenty years ago, endless office supplies, and old clothes that are no longer in style or fit properly. But most of all, I’ve amassed several hundred books.

Consequently, I’ve forced myself to keep only the books that I genuinely need, which means saying goodbye to stories and advice I’ve cherished over the years.

I find decluttering and organizing space is quite cathartic; now, I get the mass appeal of Marie Kondo. The process forces you to separate your wants and needs.

There’s constant pressure to buy the latest and greatest version of every product in this materialistic world. We buy things we don’t need; we want them because we believe our lives will be better.

We want our lives to be like those in the ad on T.V. Isn’t that the purpose of good advertising – to get us to buy things we don’t need? The cycle never ends. Consumerism has run amuck.

Often, I find our physical space reflects our internal state. For myself, I find this to be true.

My home office becomes very messy when working on a significant project, and my stress levels are high. Files or books are spread around my desk and on the floor. For the uninitiated, the scene may resemble organized chaos. However, that’s when the act of purging unwanted or unneeded items can be transformative.

Removing those things that are no longer relevant helps us to focus on what is essential. Our distractions are reduced.

I like to call this the “windshield wiper” approach. We’ve all driven in a rainstorm and need our windshield wipers to clear the rain from the windshield so that we can see where we’re going.

We learn to let go. But, unfortunately, I often think that we hold on to things because deep down, we believe we’ll need those items for some future outcome that isn’t guaranteed.

When we get rid of those items, we might internalize that we no longer want to achieve those dreams. So throwing away those materials may signal that you are throwing away your hopes and dreams. That can be scary.

Although priorities change, we can change our dreams. We even adapt them, expand them, or change how we view ourselves. Most importantly, we can change what we believe to be possible for ourselves. New dreams can be formed, making us free to redefine our lives.

Cleaning the clutter – within our physical environment and ourselves – can foster a greater sense of renewal, a new beginning. As Maria and I finalize our house for sale, we embark on a new stage of our lives together. I feel renewed and ready to focus on a new set of life goals. Are you?

Connect, Communicate, and Collaborate. That is the 3C way!

~Todd

You’ve certainly experienced loneliness, right?. But did you know about its long-term effects?

Former surgeon general, Vivek Murthy, claims that: 

"People who struggle with loneliness end up living shorting lives…are at an increased risk for heart disease, depression, dementia, anxiety, and a host of other conditions.”

Now that statement makes you stop and think, “I don’t want that.” Now to clarify, loneliness isn’t inherently wrong; each one of us needs time alone. It also is not entirely based on how big or small your social network encompasses. Instead, loneliness becomes an issue when it turns into something more chronic.

Professor of psychology and neuroscience at Brigham Young University, Julianne Holt- Lunstad, defines loneliness as

"…the discrepancy between our actual level of social connection and our desired level of connection.”

You see, what’s haunting about loneliness is that it shows no prejudice based on race, class, or gender. Anyone can feel lonely, even if it seems like they would be the last person to experience it.


The idea of loneliness can heavily impact not just a person’s physical health but mental health too. Support systems feel like they’re breaking down. All you feel is isolation. Self-preservation takes over.


The point of learning about the effects of loneliness shouldn’t make you dismayed. Instead, it should inform you to protect yourself against chronic loneliness better and assist others when they could feel lonely. Loneliness indicates that we should be connecting with others to live in a community.


Think about what community means or looks like to you:
  • What does community look like to me? In-person? Digital?
  • What are some communities that I could be a part of based on shared interests?


Try to identify what friends you connect with most:

  • Which friends do you connect with the most? Why?
  • Should I start making a weekly or monthly time to hang out more with this friend?


Or you could start making new connections at the park, an event, at school. Anywhere. On the flip side, give people grace when they might be feeling lonely. Their distance and bad behavior may be symptoms of a more significant issue they are internalizing. Better yet, ask them if they need help with anything. You could brighten their day.

If you or someone else you know ever starts feeling loneliness in the worst way, breathe. Realize that often it’s a temporary phase that can be resolved by leaning on old connections or creating new ones. Of course, dealing with loneliness is a personal process. Take your time.

There is no shame in feeling lonely. However, we should remember to do our best to avoid the type of loneliness that affects physical and mental health because there is so much more life to live.

Connect, Communicate, and Collaborate. That is the 3C way!

Thanks for reading,

~Katheryn

Note: This article is a summary and review of a piece done by Freakonomics Podcast. The source can be found here: https://freakonomics.com/podcast/loneliness/.

 

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About the blogger

K. Todd Houston, PhD, CCC-SLP, LSLS Cert. AVT

Todd is currently a Professor of Speech-Language Pathology at The University of Akron.

In a career that has spanned nearly 30 years, Dr. Houston has been a photojournalist, an Executive Director/CEO of an international non-profit organization, a clinician, published author, researcher, and an academic. This professional journey has shaped a world-view that embraces diversity and supports engagement across cultures.

Dr. Houston has a passion for ensuring that others have an opportunity to fully express themselves.

Combining his journalism background with more than two decades of focused work with children and adults impacted by hearing loss, Dr. Houston has co-created a company that is committed to producing a range of content that informs and inspires.

Through the 3C Digital Media Network, Dr. Houston will bring together a diverse array of voices who can tell their stories and inspire others to be their very best selves.

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