The health and wellbeing marketplace has seen a vast array of gadgets rising and falling in popularity over the years.
Whether it’s an electrified thing to strap to your belly that will give you a 6 pack, or a “superfood” that costs £8 a berry, marketers are eager to take your cash. And, we’re often pretty keen on spending it.
With that said, new minimalism is a breath of fresh air; rather than telling us to buy more stuff we don’t need, it’s telling us the reverse – dump the superfluous junk and live a simpler life. I like that idea, although it’s easier said than done.
The queen of this new minimalist movement is one Marie Kondo; she runs a business in Tokyo which declutters people’s homes. She’s so popular that there is a 3-month waiting list. Her book, released early last year – The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organising – is an international best-seller, shifting more than 6 million copies to date; so, people seem to like this idea on a global scale.
I guess the desire to declutter isn’t surprising in many ways. People have been coerced into buying stuff on a massive scale in recent years; this rise in purchases has happened inline with the growth of marketing power, a drop in manufacturing costs that drives prices down, and a rise in disposable income.
The basis of new minimalism is, as you would imagine, decluttering on a massive scale. According to Kondo, things in your home that don’t “spark joy” should be touched, thanked for their service, and moved on to someone else’s life to be used again.
Rather than focusing on what to get rid of, Kondo advises us to choose the things we want to keep, and to work backwards from there; according to her:
“The inside of a house or apartment after decluttering has much in common with a Shinto shrine… a place where there are no unnecessary things, and our thoughts become clear.”
So how can we all get a little more of this new minimal lifestyle in our homes? Here are some basic tips taken from the book:
Don’t Go Room To Room
When we tidy, we normally start in one room, then steadily go from place to place around the house. What you’ll find is that certain bits of tat end up moving from room to room, just ahead of you, and never get dealt with.
There will always be one room at the end that has all of the crap you couldn’t bare to part with… and you’ll leave that room the way it is. You’ll probably refer to it as something like “the room of crap.”
What Kondo suggests is that you declutter by category. Start with clothing, as it has the least emotional attachment, then move to books. Finally, tackle photos and mementos, the most emotionally charged of your belongings.
In this way you can make sure that you do a stand-up job across the board and your “room of crap” may never come in to being.
Respect The Things You Keep
Rather than crushing up your hard-working socks into balls and ramming them to the back of a draw – neatly fold them and present them. They deserve it. Rather than having a wardrobe crushed full of clothing, allow each chosen item the space to breathe.
This sounds a little daft, perhaps, but the bottom line is that the belongings you keep will end up looking better and getting more use. If what remains in your life is presented well, you will never miss the average items you got rid of.
Show your belongings respect for the service they provide you.
Nostalgia Is Unhelpful
Although wading through nostalgia can feel quite nice, it is a hinderance to minimalism. Mentally waltzing through your past can even be a painful experience. It’s important not to attach important emotions to simple items.
Items are not your history, you and your family and friends are. Stuff may remind you of past events (good or bad), but it is not the stuff itself that should be revered.
If you can make a brake from wallowing, your path to minimalism will become easier, and your mind will be freed.
Purging Is A Feel-Good Pastime
Don’t dread the cull, embrace it. When you go through a bunch of clothes and dump a load of stuff that you know you are never going to wear or look at again, it feels great. It’s a buzz.
You will feel lighter and, if you give some items to charity, you are doing a good deed too. And none of us do enough good deeds these days.
If you aren’t going to wear those snazzy blue trousers, it is selfish to keep them locked away. Let them roam free on the legs of someone braver than you. Purging is good for your soul, and quite possibly, someone else’s soul too.
What You Own = How You Live
The question of what you want to own is actually a question of how you want to live. Do you want to live, trapped in the past with nothing but stale memories? Or, do you want to live in a world where you only have a few, great items that give you joy?
Do you want to be surrounded by stuff you don’t really like, or would you like to wake up every morning surrounded by a few things that you really enjoy seeing and that you actually need?
According to Kondo (and millions of people who love her work), decluttering is next to godliness. By streamlining our lives, we can finally have the home we want. And more importantly, by slimming down our number of possessions, we can feel more in charge of our lives, happier, cleaner and sleeker.
There’s more to minimalism than simply chucking stuff away.