Sheena Marundan Of Archic Furniture On How Simplifying & Decluttering Your Life Can Make You Happier
An Interview With Drew Gerber
Do less. You don’t need to do everything, do not be too hard on yourself.
We live in a time of great excess. We have access to fast fashion, fast food, and fast everything. But studies show that all of our “stuff” is not making us any happier. How can we simplify and focus on what’s important? How can we let go of all the clutter and excess and find true happiness? In this interview series, we are talking to coaches, mental health experts, and authors who share insights, stories, and personal anecdotes about “How Simplifying and Decluttering Your Life Can Make Us Happier.” As a part of this series, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Sheena Marundan.
Sheena is a writer and editor for Archic Furniture, where she works to help create compelling content. She helps to ensure that the company’s write-ups are on point, consistent, and with integrity. She’s passionate about the creative side of a business as well as designing and developing content that’s both on-brand and engaging.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share your “backstory” with us? What was it that led you to your eventual career choice?
The earlier years of my life were spent in the medical field that I was educated in, nursing. Soon after that, I opted for a career shift and I tried to venture out and landed clerical jobs. I’ve been an administrative assistant in an office for a long time. Eventually, the thing that made me want to be a writer was my hobby of reading. I’ve always been fond of supplemental reading from different fortes. The stories I read as a kid were always so imaginative and creative and I wanted to be able to do that for other people. As an introverted kind of person, that’s where I found my voice, in writing. It wasn’t until recently that I realized how much of a passion for it I had. As soon as I found out about this career path, it was like a light bulb moment for me. And then it hit me: this is what I want to do with my career. I felt like there was something big inside of me that needed to be heard.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
Recently, I’ve had a lot of opportunities to be recognized and be heard through my writing on some of the top-tier article platforms such as this. It’s immensely satisfying when you write something good enough that other people want to read and be inspired by. I never thought that my personal experience and organic thoughts would be heard this way and it’s been a thrilling plot twist since I started this career.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
Currently, I’m devoted to my output through this platform. Writing pieces with this kind of content is something that could help other people get through their difficult times. They could learn a thing or two on how to alleviate their struggles in life.
Can you share with our readers a bit about why you are an authority on the topic of “How Simplifying and Decluttering Your Life Can Make You Happier”?
I have experienced it first-hand. My drive for simplifying and decluttering was born out of the fact that my hands are full most of the time — too much on my plate to keep up with everything. So I set out to learn how to make the most of my time so I could get done with less stress and be able to experience genuine happiness with things and life milestones I get a hold of. I’ve learned the practical approach to make my life happier: it’s about making the most of what you have instead of spending your resources on things that don’t matter in the long run.
Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the main focus of our interview. We live in a time of excess. We have access to so much. But studies show that all of our “stuff” is not making us any happier. Can you articulate for our readers a few reasons why all of our possessions are not giving us happiness?
Our possessions make us feel good while we have them. But I think it’s time we all started thinking about how things make us feel when we don’t have them. And that’s not just in terms of the physical feeling — but also in terms of the emotional and mental sense of well-being that they give us. We’ve been taught that if you don’t have something, then you can’t be happy. That’s kind of true, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that the possession itself is what makes you happy — it’s just an extension of who you are as a person. So let me ask you this: If you could get rid of all your possessions — would that make you happier? Would it make your life better? Possessions do not define us but they only give us an incredible sense of security. Think about it, if all your possessions were gone, what would you be left with? We all tend to obsess over our possessions and the feeling and thought of not having them eats at us. It makes sense that people would want to feel like they’re getting ahead in life — after all if we don’t feel like we’re moving forward, how are we supposed to grow? But let’s take a step back and look at it in a more critical light.
On a broader societal level, how do you think this excessiveness may be harming our communities and society?
We have so many options that we are always on the lookout for new things to add to our lives. But at what point does having too much stuff turn into a problem? It’s easy to think that having more stuff means you’re living a better life but perhaps that’s not always true. We all have a different basis on whether or not we need it. It’s easy to get confused when someone else has different standards than us. So while having too much stuff may seem like a good thing, it could be deteriorating our community and society by encouraging people to have more things than they need. We enforce the idea of spending on the unnecessary. It reinforces the notion that there is something better out there for us only if we can afford it. We have become so used to the system of buying new stuff instead of fixing or replacing things that we no longer realize how much control we have over it. The way forward is not to break the system by resisting or denying yourself anything new — but it is to find ways to change your outlook on things after you buy so that you don’t keep contributing to the cycle of excessiveness. It wounds our society because it causes us to live in a state of constant stress. We are always worried about what we can’t afford or how much more we need to spend on something else. In addition to this, excessiveness can affect our communities because it contributes to overconsumption and wastefulness by providing more resources than necessary for each person. We need to be aware of the environmental impact of our purchases, especially the damage it causes to natural resources.
The irony of struggling with happiness in modern times is glaring. In many places in the world today, we have more than ever before in history. Yet despite this, so many people are unhappy. Why is simplifying a solution? How would simplifying help people to access happiness?
In the past, it was easier to find a way to access happiness. Simpler things were not as complicated as they are now. But now that we’ve gotten more complex, things that could make you genuinely happy are harder to access than ever.
However, if we change our perspective regarding our basis for happiness, it won’t be that complicated. If we adjust our standards and basis of happiness to a simpler one, it would save us from those unnecessary feelings of frustration and disappointment of not being able to buy or achieve this and whatnot. Learning to accept the reality of our limits would also aid us in better understanding how to simplify our life.
Can you share some insights from your own experience? Where in your life have you transformed yourself from not having enough to finally experiencing enough? For example, many people feel they don’t have enough money. Yet, people define abundance differently, and often, those with the least money can feel the most abundant. Where in your health, wealth, or relationships have you transformed your life?
I for one, drastically changed my life when I started going back to the basics. I resorted to having Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs as my guide in taking steps in my life from here onwards. It saved me from a lot of avoidable frustrations, disappointments, and anxieties from the thought of not having enough in life. As identified in this theory, the first level that needs priority is the basic physiological needs for water, food, shelter, and clothing. Next is safety, this one is about security — the ability to feel safe and secure in your surroundings. It includes things like protection from physical harm, as well as emotional safety. Next in line would be love and belongingness — having people who care about you and your well-being. Lastly would be esteem and self-actualization — this is about feeling respected by others, feeling good about yourself, and knowing your value as an individual.
Before all this realization, in my early 20s, I’d lived a life that is so full of the pretense of happiness. I always thought that I’ll feel happy if I’m able to buy things or experience events that are on trend or dictated by peer pressure. Whenever I was able to do so, I only felt temporary happiness and after that, I’d always think of wanting more at the expense of my resources. Worst case scenario, I resorted to having debts just so I can afford the “happiness” that I’d been seeking. I even worked on jobs just for the sake of having the feeling of validation and the image of being part of society, and I confused it as a means of happiness and fulfillment. Years went on and the feeling of emptiness started to pile up. I had anxiety whenever I didn’t get things done the way I wanted them to. The stress of this consumed me and it was so suffocating. It affected me holistically. I was so sick of it and it made me feel that I haven’t achieved anything despite having those stuff. That was when I contemplated deeply, what am I lacking? Is this all that I am? Is this what I need to be happy? So when I reached my 30s, I changed my perspective on life. My basis for happiness reverted to the basics and what truly matters. My priorities are now more well thought out and I invest my resources in valuable things that are relevant in the long run. I may not have all the luxurious or trendy things, but I can be genuinely happy with the simplest things that I can afford. I may not be one of the most well-known professionals but I am content where I’m at because it allows me to work with passion and not have to rely much on the validation of society. I may not be married and have a child at this age but I am still happy and unbothered because I did not allow it to dictate my value and it does not make me less of a person.
People, places, and things shape our lives. For example, your friends generate conversations that influence you. Where you live impacts what you eat and how you spend your time. The “things” in your life, like phones, technology, or books impact your recreation. Can you tell us a little about how people, places, and things in your own life impact your experience of “experiencing enough?”
Sometimes, I get so absorbed in the things that I’m doing that I forget to take time for myself and when I do, it’s often because someone else reminded me to do so or in a way has influenced me to act on it. If I went somewhere new, it helps me see what kind of experiences I enjoy and do not, and gives me ideas about how to plan my day so that it’s pleasant as possible. The things we own could also impact our experience, for example, if you have high-end furniture that doesn’t support optimal restful sleeping or recreation, then maybe making changes would help.
What advice would you give to younger people about “experiencing enough?”
I think the most important thing is to not let your circumstances define who you are, but rather how you choose to respond to them and how to make the most out of it. It’s easy for you to get caught up in your head about what you think you should be doing and what other people would expect of you. But if you take a step back from that thought and ask yourself, “How am I feeling right now?” then it’s easier for you to see what’s going on with your experiences and where they are coming from, and what for.
This is the main question of our interview. Based on your experience and research, can you share your “five ways we can simplify and declutter our lives to make us happier?”
- Establish self-awareness. Stop persistently comparing yourself to others. Determine and understand your strengths and weaknesses.
- Do less. You don’t need to do everything, do not be too hard on yourself.
- Tackle one task at a time. Don’t try to do too much at once, prioritize the basics.
- Get rid of the things that are irrelevant in the long run.
- Focus on what matters and has a significant impact on your life. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by your life then it’s because you’re trying too hard to do so many unnecessary things and not doing enough meaningful things.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I’d like to mobilize a movement geared toward holistic health awareness. I believe that health is so much more than just our physical wellness. The way we feel physically and mentally has a lot to do with what’s happening in our lives, both internal and external aspects. It’s important to take care of our holistic health to live up to our full potential. It would be great if people started working on health holistically — inclusive of the physical, emotional, and mental aspects.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Thank you so much for these insights. This was so inspiring, and so important!
About The Interviewer: For 30 years, Drew Gerber has been inspiring those who want to change the world. Drew is the CEO of Wasabi Publicity, Inc., a full-service PR agency lauded by PR Week and Good Morning America. Wasabi Publicity, Inc. is a global marketing company that supports industry leaders, change agents, unconventional thinkers, companies and organizations that strive to make a difference. Whether it’s branding, traditional PR or social media marketing, every campaign is instilled with passion, creativity and brilliance to powerfully tell their clients’ story and amplify their intentions in the world. Schedule a free consultation at WasabiPublicity.com/Choosing-Publicity.
Sheena Marundan Of Archic Furniture On How Simplifying & Decluttering Your Life Can Make You… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.