Does owning more stuff bring more joy to our lives? If you’ve been reading our blogs recently, you’ll have seen Jen’s Make Do and Mend Life and tips from Tracey Sage for DIY beauty secrets. They’ve chosen to downsize and live a more minimalist lifestyle, but what does this mean? Should we all be decluttering to make ourselves happier? James Wallman, writer of “Stuffocation,” and Marie Kondo’s KonMari think we should! We explore this phenomenon.
Marie Kondo is a professional cleaning consultant. Inspired by the Japanese book Throw-Out Skills and a lifelong love of all things house and home, she began her study of the art of cleaning, established her consulting business, and founded the “KonMari” method. Her unique take on minimalism is now an international phenomenon as more and more people are embracing it as the route to happiness. The Japanese KonMari method focuses on Kondo’s philosophy, that one should keep only the things that spark joy in their life to make their entire existence simpler and happier. She encourages owners to thank belongings that they no longer need, and then give them up so they can discover a more appreciative owner.
Stuffocation, authored by futurist James Wallman, is a best-seller that explores a similar idea. The catchphrase of this book, “Memories live longer than things,” gives us a glimpse into Wallman’s idea called the “Experience Revolution”. Through his book and mission, Wallman advocates that people are happier with less stuff and more experiences.
Minimalism is not new to us and has been around for quite some time. However, it wasn’t as popular as it is now. People have begun realising that they are tied down by the things they have in excess. This prevents them from focusing on what is really important. As a result of this realisation, there is a growing trend of minimalist living as you can see here, and with it, the many benefits of this lifestyle.
Why is living with less stuff important?
The benefits of frugal living are manifold, with economic, social and environmental advantages. Firstly, this is the sustainable way of living. In fact, it is more a need than a desire now, as our decisions and choices have a significant impact on the planet and our fellow beings. Just think of it; every physical item we own uses resources, takes up space and requires maintenance. As we accumulate stuff, our tendency to own more things also grows. This becomes a vicious circle where we keep spending more than we should on meaningless stuff and end up with more things than we actually need. This is, in effect, junk that clutters up our homes and minds, creating a miserable situation where we have too much stuff with little to no meaning.
De-cluttering regularly, however, does not completely solve the problem. Sending things to landfill every once in a while, where they clog up empty spaces and exacerbate pollution issues, is not eco-friendly.
This article on the Minimalists blog introduces us to a very relevant matter—minimalism as a tool that can assist us in finding freedom from the trappings of the consumer culture. When we make a stern decision to own a minimal amount of stuff, we buy things after careful and conscious thought. Thus we assign more meaning to the items we own. This helps us connect with them better, and they become a source of joy.
If you are getting rid of stuff make sure you do it in an eco-friendly way. Send clothes or household items to charity shops. Or throw a yard sale to make yourself a little extra cash!
How to live with less stuff
Paring down doesn’t mean we compromise on our quality of living. It is actually the reverse. When we get rid of unnecessary excesses, we end up with time to pursue purpose-driven lives. This allows us to enjoy what we have and better indulge in experiences. Like James Wallman advises, when we prioritise experiences away from acquiring stuff, we will more likely be happy and less bored.
To begin with, we should buy only what we really need. The other part is getting rid of things we no longer enjoy or require. This not only streamlines and makes our day-to-day activities efficient, it also reduces our stress levels and the chaos we tackle on a daily basis. Nonetheless, getting rid of our excesses isn’t easy.
Once we make the decision to live with less stuff, it is time to take a good look at our belongings and begin a ruthless purge. If unsure of whether to save an item or throw it away, keep in mind that our aim isn’t an ongoing battle against clutter. Instead, we seek a meaningful transformation, the effects of which will last for a long time.
To simplify this purge, Konmari suggests to not focus on the objects to get rid of, but only on those that we should keep. Once we begin confronting our own stuff, it becomes easier to move on to communal items and spaces later.
In short, getting rid of stuff shouldn’t be about giving up things to the level of having just the bare minimum to survive. It is a deliberate decision to keep only those things that we absolutely love. When we are surrounded only by items that we connect to, we automatically tend to take better care of them. This is no longer cumbersome, and instead rewards us with a place where we can appreciate what we have and attain joy.
Take that step today; abandon with relish and embrace the lifestyle of simplicity!
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