A couple of years ago I read Marie Kondo's "The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up" and it truly did change my life. She is the gold standard for these books for a reason. She makes minimalism simple and relatable. Does the item "spark joy"? If so keep it, if not get rid of it!
It is even a minimal process!
Goodbye, Things by Fumio Sasaki takes things a step further, saying even if something DOES bring you joy, chuck it anyway lol. He is all about focusing on experiences, not items. He argues that items have outgrown their welcome.
Here are my favorite takeaways from his journey! All the quotes are from the book.
1. We don't have the mental capacity for our stuff
"I used to be a slow computer where you'd see the loading icon spinning on the screen for what seemed like an eternity...I lived in fear of my future, constantly worrying about my career and how others saw me."
I have often thought this. Our brains are 5,000 year old computers, and we can only keep track of so much. The more stuff we have, the more likely we are going to short circuit trying to manage it all. And the more fear we have about being able to manage it all in the future! What stress! Even if something sparks all the joy in the world - is it serving who you are today?
2. Your stuff owns you
"I suspect that when we're feeling lazy or unmotivated, it's either because our to-do list is too long or we're surrounded by so many menial tasks that we can't get around to doing what's important."
He mentions how the things in our space talk to us.
You see a sculpture, it says "Dust me," you see a blanket it says "Wash me," you see a fancy dress in the closet it says "Why don't you ever wear me?"
And this goes on and on, wearing us out!
3. A lot of your stuff is for other people
I am fortunate to live alone right now. So all of my stuff technically BELONGS to me. No confusion there. But how much of it is still FOR other people?
Sasaki points out :
"My feeling is that minimalists are people who know what's truly necessary for them versus what they may want for the sake of appearance, and they're not afraid to cut down on everything in the second category."
I'll say that again.
For the sake of appearance.
So much of decluttering is about being honest with yourself. What do I want for me? Am I keeping my dining room table so my house will look a certain way to others, or do I really want it??
4. Your stuff might be making you fat
"Many others have observed this effect by observing that when the things that have been stuck around you begin to move, your chi - the life force that flows through everything - will flow better and you will also slim down."
The idea that minimalism can lead to weight loss is one I have seen in more than one minimalist writing. Sasaki reports that he lost 22 lbs in his own journey from maximalist to minimalist. I can't help but notice that since I have started decluttering I HAVE found my ideal weight. And I am staying there with little to no effort.
I am going to attribute this to a few things:
But I also love his esoteric energy-centric view of it. When you (and your ancient brain) are literally holding onto things all the time, afraid to let go, it seems possible to me that we are unconsciously holding onto a lot more than things. We are locked in, holding onto bad habits as well, which could pertain to eating.
And more than that, we know that stress literally affects our metabolisms. Could it be the stress is not from your job or your family or your bad hair day, but from all the things in your way all day?
This is not something I have the answer to, but it is interesting all the same!
5. Less stuff means less fighting
"The more material possessions you have, the more energy you need to handle your everyday household chores. You become stressed, then frustrated, and you're likely to want to blame those who aren't eager to help out."
I agree with him so much! Next to money (which is often spent on things!), chores around the house can be one of the biggest sources of friction between couples. While everyone needs to be doing their fair share, what if there was less to do in general?
It's just a fact that the less you have, the more space you have for everything to have a specific home. When things have a specific home, the house doesn't get cluttered as long as everyone returns the item they just used.
Which is easier to do now because it has a real, unobstructed home!
Now all you have to do is vacuum relatively uncluttered floors and wipe down cleared countertops.
So much simpler!
Postscript: My Own Declutter!
I was inspired by the book and tried using Sasaki's idea that EVEN IF something sparks joy, what if you just don't need it? Actually?? This led to the deepest decluttering I have ever done.
I puttered around decluttering with the aim of really reducing for about a week and ended up discarding a lot! About 2-5 items from every category really adds up. Can you imagine all of this was just in the way!!!
Some of these things don't spark joy anymore, but some do. They just don't serve me as much as they could. I have started putting higher scrutiny (to borrow a term from the Supreme Court lol) on what gets to be in my living space.
Even if it sparks joy!
One example of something I discarded despite it sparking joy is this antique typewriter. It still sparks joy to see it, BUT it doesn't work, and when I bought it I thought it would. Also, it is taking up space where I could display my record player, which I would actually use if I could see it! My 5,000 year old brain cannot remember to play records if I can't see the player!
Talk to us!
Do you have just too much stuff to do the things you want to do? Are you willing to let go of something that sparks joy?? Let us know what you parted with on Instagram @tidyfairyla or follow our page on Facebook for scintillating conversation on tidying ;)
Who doesn't want to be a little bit happier?
I certainly do. That quest for increased happiness is what led me to hire Gina Novish (ImpactStyling) to save me from my closet, which led me to Marie Kondo, who taught me that I have a skill and passion for decluttering, which led me to becoming a Tidy Fairy! It's also what inspired me to pick up Gretchen Rubin's book, "The Happiness Project". It's a delightful read about her personal journey to increase her own happiness through measurable, actionable, daily steps based on ancient wisdom, scientific research, pop culture (and of course, advice from friends).
I didn't pick this out thinking that it would have anything to do with tidying. And yet, there it was; in the very first month of her Happiness Project. I just can't escape my love of decluttering. (Who am I kidding though; I was so excited to discover this portion of the book! HashtagNerdFeels)
"Toss. Restore. Organize."
Her first month was all about boosting her daily energy. As a part of that task, Gretchen decided to get her house in order, citing her own personal experience of feeling her energy drain as soon as she stepped into her cluttered home, as well as research that suggested that eliminating clutter would cut down on the amount of housework by 40 percent (let's all do less housework! Hooray!).
I can absolutely identify with that feeling of coming home after a long day out, and feeling so depressed at the sight of piles of stuff on the counters, clothes on the floor, "junk" everywhere...it's not a relaxing or welcoming environment to return to. It used to zap whatever energy I had left at the end of the day, leaving me to defeatedly fall into bed with some junk food and junk tv, without even the strength to wash my makeup off. (Denial, even if it's just of messiness, takes energy, ya'll).
"Make a list, do a little bit each day, and stay calm."
Gretchen came up with her own tidying advice that I just love, and I had to share a little with you! I'm not going to get into everything; you'll have to read her book and/or check out her fantastic blog.
I'd like to share with you how she breaks down clutter into manageable categories, all of which have pretty clear and simple solutions.
She came up with 8 great types of clutter that people are likely to fall prey to:
Gretchen's book is eminently quotable and full of great advice (and not just about tidying!), and I'd highly recommend it.
I love that at the end of the day she came to the conclusion that additional storage solutions were not necessary to free her from clutter. All she needed were two trash bags - one for throwaways and one for giveaways.
I also loved her epiphany that by decreasing the amount of clothing in her closet, she actually felt like she had much more to wear! I feel exactly the same way! We all want to feel we have exactly the best stuff for us to wear in our closets, and decluttering actually gives you that. It may seem counter intuitive, but it really does work!
Could you use this categorical awareness of clutter to conquer your closet? A cabinet? Or a drawer?
Try it out! Hone in on one category and see if that inspires you to free yourself from things in your home that don't bring you joy! A little bit of decluttering goes a long way toward improving your energy, boosting your mood due to feeling productive, and improving your relationship to material things!