What is Flat Surface Syndrome?*

Cluttered Flat Surfaces Picture

This guest post was written by Nicole Irvine.  From time to time, I will be having guest bloggers write a post that incorporates one of the 4M’s – Mindfulness, Meditation, Minimalism, and Movement.  If you would like to write and submit a post, please contact me with your idea.  I would love to hear from you!


Have you ever found yourself saying any of the following?

  • “I just know that is around here somewhere…” OR “I swear it was here yesterday”
  • “Don’t we already have one (or some) of these?”
  • “We do not have enough storage space” OR “We need a bigger place”
  • “It is probably in the junk drawer/spare room”
  • “Let me just shift this so we can eat at the dinner table”
  • “Where did all of this come from?” OR “How the [expletive] did I end up with this much stuff?”

Do you feel cramped in your own home? Over-run or overwhelmed with items that seemed imperative to have at one point? Are all of your closets and corners filled beyond capacity to the point that you are no longer aware of their contents? You may be one of the many unaware individuals who suffer daily from Flat Surface Syndrome*.

The symptoms are easily recognizable: Every flat surface available in your home, office, vehicle, or yard has been blanketed (i.e. taken over) by the unorganized chaos of your stuff. If it is level enough to support a pile (neat or otherwise), it has been covered… floor, tables, shelves, even the portion of the bed you can no longer sleep comfortably in.

Do you accept hand me down furniture without an empty room to put it? Do you just have to own all 101 Dalmatian figurines and display them proudly in your home? Have you mastered piling, stacking, and using any available surface area to achieve maximum storage, yet minimizing accessible living space? Does the thought of a clear, unadorned shelf send chills down your spine? You may be infected with Flat Surface Syndrome*.

You might even have an augmented sense of pleasure from all of the items in your possession. It is possible that having not read this post, you may have lived out the rest of your days oblivious to the insidious illness permeating your being while saturating your living space.

You most likely are unaware that you are suffering in silence at the lack of literal and figurative breathing room; but it is not too late. You can be cured of the infliction of item abundance, once you realize that everything you have amassed may be unnecessary material baggage. If you do not need it to function in your daily life, and it is not one of the first 3 things you would rescue from a burning building, it is most likely an extraneous luxury. Be happy you encountered such richness, and enjoy the feeling it gives you, knowing it’s the feeling you enjoy and not the “thing”, whatever it may be. That pleasure can exist within you in the absence of “stuff”.

To those who live minimally, the majority of items feel like “dustables” (items that do nothing but collect dust), that create additional chores, busy up visual space, or are an unnecessary financial cost. Extra or additional material items do not add but distract from their pleasure.

You may be unable to eliminate your accumulations entirely, but any reduction may have a beneficial impact helping reduce physical and mental clutter (not to mention tripping hazards). If you are able to unburden yourself with material stuff you may just find the gift of austere tranquility.

Ultimately though, it is your choice on how you want to spend your time, money, and space in this life.  Who am I to tell you how to live your life?  I’m just an individual who learned from experience that eating while sharing the dining table with stacks of mail and financial papers, does nothing to help with digestion.

(*This is not a real illness and is meant for humorous literary purposes only.)



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One Response to What is Flat Surface Syndrome?*

  1. I was convinced this was a real thing until I read the *! I totally know people who suffer from this, and I think it should be listed as an actual problem, as some people let it overwhelm their lives! There is a solution though, and I hope people like this are able to find it!


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