Living With Less Is Living With More

by Christiane Northrup, M.D.


I’ve been renovating my home for a number of months. I moved out of my main living space to a 600 square foot apartment that’s attached to my house. It has everything you need in a tiny footprint, and I’ve gotten used to living with less. In fact, I really liked it. As it became time to move back into my house, I realized that I had been living with a lot of stuff and that piles of it had accumulated in different corners of the house.

You know how it is. At first you see it, but after a while it’s just part of the background. Then something causes you to see it with fresh eyes—perhaps an upcoming visit from your obsessive-compulsive mother-in-law—and you go into a panic. If you’re like a lot of people, you need a plan before you can even begin. If you don’t have a plan, you’re likely to feel overwhelmed and tired before you’ve even done anything.

If you don’t know what I mean, take a second to look under your kitchen sink. You’ll be shaking your head, too, wondering how it’s possible that you’ve held onto decrepit looking cleaning products longer than some of your favorite outfits.

You may not know that there’s a connection betweengood Feng Shui design and de-cluttering. Feng Shui is the placement of furniture and belongings in a way that supports your lifestyle. Sometimes it supports the life you’re trying to move towards as well. For example, you can change things to welcome more romance, strengthen your finances, improve your health—you name it.

I’ve been a fan of Feng Shui for many years and enjoy getting my home just so. Two of my favorite Feng Shui authors are Terah Kathryn Collins, who wrote The Western Guide to Feng Shui, and Karen Kingston, who wrote Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui.  One thing you learn is that clutter has no place to hide in Feng Shui. Even crammed in a closet, the chi or life’s energy that exists all around you and in your home can get stuck, causing areas of your life to stagnate. If a Feng Shui expert visits your house, he or she can tell you what areas of your life are likely to be stagnant and problematic just by looking around your house.

So I’m no stranger to de-cluttering and I know it has benefits. My ritual usually involves releasing things I want to banish from my life, including relationships, possessions, and cluttered thoughts, which no longer serve. But with the renovation deadline at hand, I needed a little help, a little inspiration, to get my home organized for the next phase.

I found that help by way of the Fly Lady (Marla Cilley) at  I’ve loved her advice about a shiny sink being a good place to end each day and set the stage for the next! Check this story out on her Web site.

Marla’s advice (and de-cluttering system) is great for anytime, but especially for spring. There’s something about this time of year that makes us want to start fresh, with a clean slate. (I learned a most fascinating tidbit about this today. A massage therapist colleague, who does colonics, said she can always tell it’s spring—the number of people who schedule colonics increases dramatically. Happens every year. Talk about deep cleaning.) It doesn’t matter where you start, whether inside your body or outside—they’re related. But I recommend that you chose one area and spend just 15 minutes on it.

Marla points out that most of us who accumulate clutter are actually perfectionists. We don’t get to the cleaning that needs to be done because we don’t have enough time to do it “perfectionly.” So, we don’t do it at all! The answer is baby steps. Just 15 minutes per day. And a shiny sink. This approach is contagious. Neatness and a shiny sink breed more neatness and more shiny surfaces over time. The Fly Lady system for creating order works even if you have young children. Peace eventually replaces the stress of clutter as you get systems in place that really work. Don’t get discouraged.

If the spring’s energy isn’t enough to motivate you, know that clearing your clutter can also save you money, lower your stress level, and may even help you lose weight! People who live in messy spaces end up going to the store to replace something that’s not used up, but rather lost in their own home. When I was de-cluttering my bathroom, I found eight new toothbrushes and four packages of cotton balls I didn’t know I had.

Your living space is a reflection of your inner self. If you’re living in clutter and chaos, don’t be surprised if you have trouble making decisions, have more aches and pains, and are more lethargic than usual. To be healthy, that chi has to circulate, and when it doesn’t circulate freely in your home or in your body—your health can suffer. You become stagnant and stuck.

So clear a little clutter. Just one space that would make your life easier. Then write me and tell me if you notice any changes in your physical body, like weight loss or more energy. I’d also like to know how making changes in your environment contributes to healthier emotions and greater mental clarity. Of course there’s also the fact that when you remove clutter, you allow exciting, new, fresh things to come into your life automatically! Very exciting stuff. Watch for this to happen. It’s amazing.

Last Updated: April 18, 2011

Christiane Northrup, M.D.

Christiane Northrup, M.D., is a visionary pioneer and a leading authority in the field of women’s health and wellness. Recognizing the unity of body, mind, and spirit, she empowers women to trust their inner wisdom, their connection with Source, and their ability to truly flourish.


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  1. ALi Davies
    9 years ago

    I can totally relate to what you are saying here. When we left Ireland to move to Vancouver to live (two years ago) we pretty much ditched, sold or gave away everything. And I mean pretty much everything. It was liberating beyond what I can put into words. Embracing a minimalist approach to work and life has transformed our lives in many ways and on many different levels.

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