Ever notice how depressing it feels to be surrounded by boxes?
I always used to think people who were overly concerned with neatness with neatfreaks. Actually, I still think that, but I’m starting to wonder if a little neatness now and then might be a good thing.
Some people, whom I shall refer to as boxers, live surrounded by Uncontrolled Stuff, a.k.a clutter. (Not to be confused with people who live surrounded by piles that resemble the aftermath of a tornado, but they know where everything is and they're not stressed about having everything out in view. That's Controlled Stuff.)
There's a theory that clutter is related to being overweight. A decade ago, the guru was Karen Kingston, author of Clearing clutter with feng shui. Now it’s Fly Lady, with her book Body Clutter. Even Oprah has gotten on the bandwagon with this notion, with her clutter expert Peter Walsh. Basically the theory is that clutter and excess weight are both used as some kind of buffer system between the boxer and the outside world. If you can't let things go, then you end up letting yourself go, as it were.
Note: these authorities suggest people who tend to live in clutter also tend to be overweight. My theory that people who live in clutter tend not to be in good shape. It’s possible to be thin without being fit, and that seems to be the dividing line.
People who live cluttered lives have more trouble letting go of things or more trouble making decisions. We accumulate clutter because we’re emotionally attached to our possessions or we don't know where they should go and so the stuff stays out on the kitchen table for days/weeks/eons.
You could make decisions for an indecisive boxer, if you want to spend the rest of your life playing nanny. But you can't forcibly take the clutter away from an emotionally attached boxer -- if you throw out all their stuff they feel naked and vulnerable, and consciously or not start gathering clutter again.
Living with clutter or with a lack of fitness is essentially giving up control over your environment, be it your living space or your body. Dr. J. wrote a blog post about a link between obese people and littering. I think it’s the same sort of behavior. I mean, the more you care about your body, the less likely you are to put junk food into it and the more likely you are to keep it in good shape. The more you care about the environment, the less likely you are to litter. Can we extend that to a cluttered home or workspace?
Am I whistling Dixie and postulating whereof I am ignorant? Please feel free to shoot this theory down. I'm open to debate.
Presumably people who practice a more lean, unfettered existence should be designated as briefs. I'm not sure how to verify that lean people are more organized around the house except by finding some lean, fit man and following him home to check out his personal surroundings. Could be an interesting research subject, but any grant money would have to pay for my lawyer's fees when I get arrested for stalking.
Probably that little snag is the reason I haven't found any scientific studies about this. But there's lots of anecdotal evidence, plus it’s on Oprah – what more do you want?
I do believe that people who can bring themselves to get rid of clutter Feel Better. And certainly people who are moving house are more stressed and crantankerous than the average human. Why else would people who fight be named boxers?
Note: the above post is talking about human boxers, not any four-legged friends you might happen to know and love. Honest.