Unstuffed: Decluttering Your Home, Mind, and Soul by Ruth Soukup
The first thing to remember about UNSTUFFED is that it is not really about getting rid of clutter. Yes of course, the author does talk about getting rid of uwanted stuff, but that's not the real point. The real point, Ms. Soukup explains, is that you get rid of this stuff so that you can see what is REALLY important in life. It could be relationships, it could be your family, it could be lots of things--but the clutter is getting in the way.
The author freely admits that she really feels the attraction of accumulating things:
I love to get stuff.
I love to give stuff.
I love the idea of stuff.
I love getting a good deal on stuff.
Stuff is pretty.
Stuff makes me happy.
Of course, we should strive to simplify, but here's the key: "Becoming unstuffed, truly unstuffed, is much more than that. It’s changing the way we look at our homes and the stuff we live with. It’s changing the way we look at our schedules and the stuff that fills our time. It’s changing the way we look at our relationships..."
As for the practical ideas, The author presents 10 simple habits, which alone can go a long way to help you simplify your life. They are not earth-shattering ideas; rather, they are simple but effective ways to achieve a lot for a little time. Here are a few: making your bed properly, promptly trashing junk mail, or even just cleaning the kitchen sink. Each of these habits only take a minute or two, but they go far toward simplifying and de-cluttering your home.
Much of the emphasis in UNSTUFFED is how to deal with clutter in your family--especially in buying your kids things. The author suggests that you teach the kids the value of money, by helping them to associate the reward with the effort. In particular, she teaches her own kids that money comes from hard work.
The entire theme of UNSTUFFED is based on Christian, biblical principles. Ms. Soukoup was confronted with a simple, but profound question years ago. She how asks the reader the same question: "What are you doing with God’s money?" Are you being a good steward, or trying to forever get more and more?
Ruth suggests a simple answer: Instead of chasing after more and more goods, a Christian can simply choose to be CONTENT. Making that simple (but tough!) choice will tend to lessen the urgency of accumulating more and more goods.
Part ofovercoming the cluttered lifestyle is to decide to sometimes just unplug. This might mean keeping your weekends free, or it might mean taking a nap sometimes. You give yourself permission to unplug. Just like the Biblical principle: "We were made to rest. I was made to rest. Balance isn’t something I can do, giving myself and my family time for rest is something I can be more intentional about."
At the very end of the book, the author presents a spiritual lesson in how to really achieve an "unstuffed" life: "The only way to become truly unstuffed is to accept the amazing, incredible, unlimited, and totally undeserved grace we’ve already been given and to stop trying to fill that hole ourselves. Grace is the answer we are often too stubborn stubborn to believe and too proud to receive."
UNSTUFFED is a surprising book. If you're just looking for a book of practical tips, you might find the spiritual side unsettling. Again, it's not simply a book of tips and tricks to make your life a little bit simpler. UNSTUFFED does indeed have those practical tips, but that's not the main thing, that the author wishes to convey.
UNSTUFFED is a lot more than practical tips. It's actually a philosophy of life.
For a related title by this same author, I recommend "Living Well Spending Less: 12 Secrets of the Good Life."
For another perspective on de-cluttering your life, see, "Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up."
Advance Reading Copy courtesy of Netgalley.