by Barry Dennis (adapted from The Chotchky Challenge)


Do you have too much “Chotchky” in your life? Most of us do. Chotchky is anything that intrudes, clutters or distracts us from our soul’s highest purpose. An incredible amount of what we actually buy, accept and allow into our lives is Chotchky. Chotchky includes material things, unhealthy substances we consume, meaningless information and distractions, and even nonsupportive people.

Being surrounded by useless stuff robs us of our energy. The more Chotchky there is in our life, the more disorder, stress, ambiguity, tension and immobilization we will experience. The good news is, clearing away the things that are cluttering your life will leave you feeling lighter, clearer, calmer, healthier and more connected.

Here are 10 spring-cleaning tips to re-energize your life and make you happier.

1. Fill up “glad” bags.

Grab three bags: one to donate, one for recycling and one for garbage. Find places in your house that are weighing you down. For example, how many hair products, lotions, makeup items and pills do you really use in your bathroom? In your sock drawer, how many pairs of socks would you have to wear every day to actually run out before the next wash?

2. Build in a pause.

Before you make a decision to bring something into your life, whether it’s dessert, a relationship, a pair of jeans on sale or a mindless TV show, ask yourself, “Does my heart truly desire this? Will it make my life better? Happier? More fulfilled?” Pausing before you acquire or consume can prevent every type of clutter from overtaking your life.

3. Hold a storage unit sale.

This is one of the easiest ways to lighten your load. If you’re actually paying someone to store your unused junk, you don’t need it. Throw a sale and use the money for something that will add to the quality of your life like a nice dinner out with your family. Let it go; don’t hold onto it.

4. Declutter your closet.

How much time do you waste deciding what to wear? How many shoes collect dust in your closet? You don’t need a bigger closet; you need fewer choices. Your closet should have no more than one hanger every 2 inches to avoid overload. Don’t let your closet exceed 80-percent capacity. Give that dress, belt or pair of boots to a friend, or donate it.

5. Clean up your diet.

We eat too much, and sometimes we feed our bodies junk that’s full of chemicals and fat. Look in your pantry, freezer and cupboards and get rid of all the food that’s not empowering you. When you eat out, pay attention to what—and how much—food you put into your body. Try to consume food that makes you healthy and energized, not clogged up, toxic and sluggish.

6. Clear your mind.

If you respond to every ring and buzz of your mobile device while you’re eating breakfast with your spouse or kids, you remove the possibility for meaningful conversation. If you text while you walk, you’re not observing the world around you. Manage your technology consumption to allow for empty mental space. While watching TV, mute the sound during commercials and have a conversation or do some stretches instead.

7. Ungift.

How much unwanted stuff have you received as gifts? Instead of acquiring more, you can gracefully say, “I really appreciate the love with which you give. That love is the real gift to me. Thanks.” Then tell them you’re trying to let go of things and you’d prefer a gift that doesn’t take up space—a basket of fruit, tea, movie passes, a meal out, a yoga class, three hours of babysitting, etc. When you give a gift, make it a gift that gives back.

8. Invest in your soul.

Every time you are tempted to part with your money for something you really don’t need, stop. Write down the amount and walk away. At the end of the month, tally up your savings. Put that money toward a dream, your favorite charity or anything else that lifts your spirit.

9. Sweep out your schedule.

I don’t have enough time to follow my dreams. Really? Somehow there seems to be enough time for TV, Internet surfing, movies, dinners out, texting, drinks and all the other activities you do that may not be feeding your soul. You have enough time. Maybe what you’re lacking is commitment.

10. Precycle.

Precycling is the act of returning something to the earth before it was even taken, saving our resources and creating a brighter future. Before you buy anything, consider all the resources it took to make. Recyclable plastic water bottles, for example, use 17 million barrels of oil each year. Use the faucet and a repurposed glass bottle instead.

Barry Dennis is an internationally known inspirational speaker and spiritual teacher. His newest book is The Chotchky Challenge: Clear the Clutter from Your Home, Heart, and Mind…and Discover the True Treasure of Your Soul (Hay House, April 2012). Learn more at