America is suffering from over-consumption and excessive accumulation. One of the fastest growing businesses in America is the self-storage business. Even in profoundly rural Essex County, self storage units have popped up in many area communities. In suburban and urban areas, the need for self storage has become insatiable. While personal bankruptcy and record numbers of people losing their homes to defaulted mortgages have many running to self-storage facilities, those elements alone do not explain the exponential increase in self-storage in America.
The experts suggest that there is a cost for accumulating clutter beyond the financial impact. Ergonomics is the scientific study of humans, space and energy. According to ergonomic scientists, objects create energy in our living space, their placement and displacements, the space they take up, create energy in our homes. If our homes are cluttered, the energy is negative 100 percent of the time. That energy can make us anxious and depressed or it can even make us ill.
If you have ever been in a high school science class you may recall learning about stressed-out mice when their living space became overcrowded. As their space became progressively more crowded with more stuff, not more mice, mice that once had exhibited socially nurturing and life supporting behaviors became more and more depressed and anxious. Some mice became so anxious that a few resorted to cannibalistic behavior.
As humans, our essential DNA is not dramatically different than those laboratory mice and while few of us will become flesh-consuming monsters, many of us may become stressed and anxious. Have you ever stayed in a nice hotel? It is not accidental that upscale hotels feature large, open spaces. Hotels create open spaces because it compels guests to feel relaxed. Relaxed guests feel like engaging in recreation, going out to dinner and to otherwise spend money having fun.
According to my reckoning, at any given moment, 25 percent of our homes should feature open space. In each room, 25 percent of your wall space and floor space should be open. This is the 25 percent rule. Take down that framed poster announcing Peter Frampton's record setting performance at Plattsburg State. Each closet in your home should have 25 percent of its space available. You may need to give up that old jean jacket that used to fit you 15 pounds ago.
I have resolved to declutter my life one space at a time. I will judiciously apply the 25 percent rule to each space in my life. Open spaces encourage calmness and imagination. In applying the 25 percent rule, I will end up with a well balanced home with a positive energy signature. If the 25 percent rule is real, anyone employing it should end up with about 25 percent more discretionary time at the end of the process. Time conceivably used for doing something fun with friends or family. Remember all kids count.
Scot Hurlburt can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org