Clutter As A Lesson In Tolerance And Refrigerator Magnets

I don’t like clutter. I make an honest attempt to keep my home and my office clutter free. Laundry, dishes, and garbage are dealt with daily. My desk is organized. I keep my space clean. My daughter on the hand…

Clutter as a lesson in tolerance: Photo of my daughter, Annie.
Annie: Photo by Deccio Creative

I believe in minimalism. I believe that owning less stuff leads to more happiness and a better life. Keeping a clean and clutter-free home gives us space. Space provides us with a sense of calm and peace. 

That said, loving minimalism isn’t an excuse to be intolerant to others who do not share that love.

How Do You Deal With Other’s Clutter?

Unless you live alone and work alone, you have to deal with surroundings that include other’s clutter. My 12-year-old daughter, Annie, doesn’t share my love of clean space and minimalism. Perhaps there is someone in your life that has more clutter than you do. Does it make you crazy?

It feels like I’m constantly picking up after my daughter. She comes into the house and just drops her stuff on the floor, on the table, in her bathroom. Of course I point these things out to her and am working on teaching her the value of a clean home and owning less stuff. But I’m also not one to push minimalism on my kid. 

Recently, I read a Facebook post about refrigerator magnets being a form of clutter. If I had my druthers, I wouldn’t have any refrigerator magnets. But Annie likes them. We have a few, some of which are Annie’s school photos. I commented on the Facebook post that I keep a few magnets on my refrigerator for my daughter’s sake.

I don’t want my daughter to remember me as a complete neat freak who banned refrigerator magnets.

Sacrifice And Tolerance

Maybe it’s not always clutter that’s the problem. There’s nothing wrong with wanting a clean home. But having zero tolerance for anything, including clutter, might actually be our own problem.

As much as I’d like a home that looks like minimalist porn, that’s just not realistic. Life gets messy. Some days are busier than others. We have to live with those who do not share our love for cleanliness. The key to happiness as a minimalist is not in a picture-perfect home. The key to happiness is in acceptance.

Be willing to allow a little imperfection and clutter in your life. If we feel the need to keep our own surroundings so perfect that we get annoyed with those around us, we may lose out on some important memories. 

Just Take A Deep Breath

Next time someone else’s clutter gets you flustered, stop and take a deep breath. It’s okay to ask your loved ones or co-workers to clean up. But don’t become so intolerant of clutter that you let it control your own emotions. Be willing to allow a little clutter. Be tolerant. It’s okay to have a few refrigerator magnets, too.

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4 Comments

  1. I always let my kids keep their own rooms the way they liked them, as long as they were clean. Clutter is one thing, dirt is another. So I “tolerated” their extremely cluttered bedrooms, and they “tolerated” the fact that I expected them to put dirty clothes in the hamper, dirty dishes in the dishwasher, garbage in the waste basket, etc. It worked pretty well for us.

    That said, you are right that my desire for a completely clutter-free home could amount to a sort of tyranny for myself and others if I’m not careful. The need or desire for perfect minimalism can become sort of a fetish which can get in the way of relationships. As with almost everything, balance is key.

    1. If taken too far, I think aiming for perfection as a minimalist could even border into mental health problems. With OCD, if a person spends an hour or more a day doing any kind of compulsive behavior to get things “just right,” they fit the diagnosis. I doubt most of us who try to practice minimalism do that, but there may be some.

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