Day 307 To believe

A friend and I were having one of our philosophical chats while walking a couple of weeks ago. At some point, the subject changed to the psychological benefits of my decluttering process.  Having known me before I started on this mission and being that we often discuss it she has noticed the changes it has had on me.

We discussed how my blog has added purpose to what seemed at first to be just a household chore. We talked about the side effects and lessons I have learned along the way. How I now receive so much satisfaction out of helping others with their clutter issues and that shopping no longer holds any appeal to me these days.

I have even had a positive impact on my friend, encouraging her to ease off on the spending and get her credit card debt under control.  We walk together often, which is good for our health and keeps us occupied as we all know how easy it is to get bored and restless when we have nothing worthwhile to do.

When this friend went home she happened to check out her meditation passage for the day and was surprised to find that it reflected the difference she felt she saw in me.  Here is that meditation passage for you to read and ponder…

To Believe

Having learned to transcend purely self-directed concern, fully alive people discover meaning” in their lives. This meaning is found in what Viktor Frankl calls “a specific vocation or mission in life.” It is a matter of commitment to a person or cause in which one can believe and to which one can be dedicated. This faith commitment shapes the lives of fully alive individuals making all of their efforts seem significant and worthwhile. Devotion to this life task raises them above the pettiness and paltriness that necessarily devour meaningless lives. When there is no such meaning in a human life, one is left almost entirely to the pursuit of sensations. One can only experiment, looking for new “kicks,” new ways to break the monotony and boredom of a stagnant life. A person without meaning usually gets lost in the forest of chemically induced delusions, the alcoholic fog, the prolonged orgy, the restless eagerness to scratch without even having an itch. Human nature abhors a vacuum. We must find a cause to believe in or spend the rest of our lives compensating ourselves for failure. From Fully Human, Fully Alive

I know that passage is a bit heavy but the message I took from it is this: If we have lost touch with all worthwhile focus in our lives, we will rely on external stimuli to give us the pleasure we require for happiness, such as shopping, drinking, gambling, drugs etc, to fill the emptiness. Decluttering has given me more purpose than I expected. Not only has it taught me I can be “more with less” but has rewarded me with the joy of helping others.

My friend also found this passage that she wanted me to share with you. It says a lot about the way we chose to live in the Western world….

You’ve never seen a people with as little time as Westerners. Yet we have kitchens filled with time – and work saving objects. Go to the poor Third World countries and ask, “Do you have a little time to talk?” “the rest of my life,.” they’ll say and sit down and share themselves with you for the afternoon.

We should have more time than anybody, but we don’t have any time at all. We’ve defined freedom falsely as an outer thing, in terms of time, space and options. Letting Go – The spirituality of subtraction.


The photo on the left shows the declutter item for today while on the right is the coffee plunger hybrid I made from the combined unbroken parts of the two pots. One pot had a broken glass carafe while the plunger had broken in the other. A lot of good the Bonjour brand pot with the unbreakable carafe was when its plunger only lasted a couple of months.

Coffee Pot PartsCoffee Pot Hybrid

5 Things I am grateful for today

  1. Finding time to do some decluttering and organising.
  2. Giants won the world series – That is a bit of news Liam is really going to enjoy.
  3. A nice night out last night with my old work friends.
  4. Having a good laugh with Liam today even though I shouldn’t have been laughing because he was misbehaving but I couldn’t help myself. It is the first time he has smiled and laughed with us since the accident so I just let go and enjoyed it.
  5. Making progress with decluttering the fridge and pantry.
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Continue reading with these posts:

  • Cindy’s weekly Wisdom ~ A Study of Clutter I read this great little post the other day - 46 ways to increase your happiness. Of course, I wasn't surprised at all to find that reducing clutter was on the list (number 31). I […]
  • Simple Way back in the early days of my decluttering mission I wrote a post about keeping it simple. I stand by those words to this day and have pasted them below for you to study again. Here […]
  • Owning your life skill ~ By Doodle One of our long time regular readers Doodle has kindly agreed to help out here at 365 by writing a blog post for me every other Wednesday. Today is her first regular post although not the […]
About Colleen Madsen

Colleen is the founder of 365 Less Things and lives in Newcastle, Australia.


  1. “You’ve never seen a people with as little time as Westerners.”

    How true – all our time saving conveniences don’t REALLY save us time, because as we developed the ability to, for example, wash clothes easily, then we decided we had to wash them every single time we wore them – which means we’re doing laundry every day instead of once a week. As quickly as people invented machines to save us time, we increased the number of things we “had” to do. It’s a race, and we’ll never win if we keep doing the same thing.

    • Hi Jo,
      that sounds about right to me. I know for one how much time I sit with my laptop and the hours fly by.On the other hand I have never been one for only wearing clothes once and washing them so I don’t waste time with that.

  2. What an amazing post. I’ve been thinking the same thing lately, about how decluttering has begun to change me fundamentally as a person and then here was your beautiful post. I’m amazed at how, in such a short time, this “project,” has made such changes in my life and attitude. I’ve tried so many self helpy things to try and effect change in myself and they NEVER work. For some reason though, the act of physically cleaning out and minimalizing my life is also mentally and emotionally cleaning out my life. I think it must be because the focus of what I’m doing is simply, inherently, good. It promotes peace, space (for mind and body), time and ultimately joy. So thank you for a great post which put into words so clearly want I’ve been thinking and feeling. Best wishes to your son also. Glad to hear he is improving every day.

    • Hi Sally,
      my friend will be glad you enjoyed this post as it was of her inspiration. I had better make sure she reads it. I am glad it was something you could relate to as it is very validating when we see in words the way we feel about something. And thank you for the well wishes for my son we are seeing improvement everyday and have great hope for a good recovery.

  3. Great post!
    The reason westerners don’t have time is because we are so busy chasing more money, success, fame, possessions, more more more!

    And the whole thing about the purpose -and lack of it being a void to fill with sensations – really resonates with me. I have found my meaning in motherhood. I have a satisfying “job” as a visual artist, but my truest, most important calling is to be a mother. I can extend this to to all my other family members and perhaps one day to being a grandmother. Which is not to say I don’t care about the rest of the world, I do, but I think we have to meet our own family’s needs first. It’s no use trying to save the world while neglecting your own family!

    • Hi Cat’s Meow,
      I agree fully with both points you make here. More more more is the Western world’s biggest downfall there has to be a better way. And dedicating yourself to your family sounds like a very good choice of focus to me. Far too often the family are the first to be sacrificed in the pursuit of More.

  4. Great post. I’ve experienced the same thing, and it still amazes me. Next Monday my son and I are scheduled to start the process on my parents’ attic. I only wish it could bring them the same clarity and freedom it has brought me. We’ll see.

    Liam laughing is a blessing 🙂

    • Hi Meg,
      good luck with your parents’ attic you left that job to the right time of the year. Imagine trying to do that in the Summer. My dad was talking about selling off a bunch of tool from his work shed the other day as he realises he is getting too old to make full use of them any more. I imagine it was a sad realisation for him because he has always been so active and handy but now all his old broken bones are causing him too much pain to do anything other than the odd repair around the house.

      Liam is becoming a real night time mischief pot for the nurses but there is talk of sending him to the rehab centre next week where him will not be so bored and they will tire him out so he sleeps better at night.

  5. While reading today’s post, one quote came to my mind, that one of Ghandi, which really sums this post and how I see you “Be the change you want to see in the world”.

  6. This is a good lesson for all of us and one we should remember every time we want to ‘purchase time’ by buying a time saving device. One caveat: I lived for months with no washing machine. Being several months pregnant, I had to wash all the clothes for four people in a river, carting them down, washing and rinsing them, pulling them back up and hanging them out. It would take me most of a day. When I got a washing machine (wringer style), I saved A LOT of time. Some machines are worth it; most aren’t.

    And as you can see, your fix worked 🙂

    • Hi Willow,
      I agree about the washing machine and mine has had a real workout this last week with Liam going through so many changes of clothes each day. His storming was causing him a lot of sweating, his eating was quite messy and his toileting arrangements aren’t great either. He has improved out of sight with all of these things in a very short time so maybe today the washing machine could have a day off.

      Glad I could fix the viewing problem for you. I am becoming quite the post handyman.

  7. Lovely!!


  8. Isn’t Richard Rohr wonderful? I recently read his latest book “Simplicity” (or is it “On Simplicity”). How great be able to have satisfying philosophical chats with good friends 🙂 And your son sounds adorable; let him be as cheeky as he wants!

    • Hi Loretta,
      I must get to the library and see if they have any Richard Rohr books because it seems like they would be a good read. My friend from this post often lends me here self improvement/New age books and I have learned a lot from them. She and I are a good team both feeding off each other.

      As for that boy of mine he could do with a little less swearing among the cheekiness. Now that his vocal cords are healing well he is a little to easy to understand when he lets fly. 😆

  9. I would like to be a fully alive individual whose faith commitment makes all my efforts seem significant and worthwhile. What a glorious state to be in. I would also like to be be able to say, “Sure, I’ll sit down with you for the afternoon and talk for as long as you want.”
    Well….this post really has me thinking of what needs to change in my life so that this becomes a reality and not just an aspiration.
    So glad Liam is laughing and enjoying himself again, even if he is being just a little naughty. 🙂

    • Hi Di,
      to me being fully alive is having something worthwhile to do so that I don’t have to rely on material things to feel fulfilled. My blog and my decluttering mission is doing that for me at the moment. I am making my home a better place and helping others at the same time. I must admit I always get a buzz out of helping others. Some of the most enjoyable things I have done in my life were volunteering positions. I am a bit of an appreciation junky I think.

      We have just come home from visiting Liam and he seems to be getting more like himself everyday.