Book Blog – Outer Order, Inner Calm by Gretchen Rubin

Rating 2 out of 5 stars

The author of ‘The Happiness Project’ speaks here to the impact that orderly surroundings have on our overall feeling of well being. She brings to light the many facts that we know from direct experience to be true but are often unwilling to acknowledge or articulate.

I find her language uplifting, encouraging and easy to follow. This book is constantly urging the reader to make changes in that it is full of immediately actionable suggestions. If an overhaul of Marie Kondo’s magnitude is intimidating to you this book has several easy steps in getting your surroundings more organized, functional and pleasant.

Yet it seems to be a ‘people pleaser’ type approach as it lacks depth and any really lasting impact.

Gretchen Ruben seeks to take a different approach to two highly popular and strongly pursued concepts of today’s time – minimalism and the teaching of Marie Kondo. Her rationale for each being that there is no one way of organizing and that each individual must find their own path. This is true but I do believe that she misses the point that one large overhaul of your lifetime is largely impactful in the way of changing your life versus a life time of baby steps where you will make small changes and mini updates but never take a quantum leap. Moreover unless you commit to minimalism, all your organizing efforts will be very short term and before you know it you will be surrounded by junk again. Minimalism, undeniably, has several levels and each individual has to find their own sweet spot. You could go extremely minimal and discard all that you own save the items you need to survive. Or you could find a level where you are functional beyond the bare survival mode. But you need to approach it and keep it as a guiding principle as you work to organize your home and life.

In my humble opinion, there are no shortcuts and if you are seeking lasting change to your surroundings and your current and future mindset, you need to dig deeper than such superficial approaches to organizing. Without a deep investment in the process, you will never get to a point where your surroundings are truly filled by objects you love and not a single unwanted object is tolerated. In other words you will never be truly caught up. The most important outcome of this project, the inner growth demonstrated by a mindset where all choices in your life are guided by your inner conscience will continue to evade you and your life will somehow be lacking a sparkle despite your best and sincere efforts.

This is precisely why I disagree with short term wins projects such as the ones Gretchen Ruben describes here. I feel like by following such approaches you will be like a hamster in a wheel – always working to make those short term wins and never making a significant difference either in your outer or inner world. Such short term projects cannot and will not have the lasting and life changing impact to your inner world that is desired and needed as an outcome of organizing your surroundings.

I urge you to look beyond, dig deeper and invest in a life changing overhaul. Do not be content until your entire house is decluttered and organized. Even if it takes as long as a year, make sure to follow a process and give each area of your home your complete focus and attention. And the journey doesn’t stop there too. Every few months, revisit all your areas (I prefer the order described by Marie Kondo) to make sure you are constantly vigilant against the building of clutter. In this way you will come up with your own version of minimalism.

3 Replies to “Book Blog – Outer Order, Inner Calm by Gretchen Rubin”

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