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The Art of Decluttering

January 26, 2018

Dusting is an act. Decluttering is an art.

Minimalist living has swept across the world with the desire for simplicity and freedom. The idea that the casting aside of meaningless material things releases negative energy, making room for meaningful life experiences, is the essence behind its widespread popularity.

The world renowned expert in decluttering is Japanese organising consultant Marie Kondo. She has guided millions along the path to freedom with her bible “The Life-Changing Magic of Cleaning Up: The Japanese art of decluttering and organizing”. Kondo’s services command a waiting list a mile long in Japan, but for the rest of us, her book breaks down her radical, two-pronged approach to tidying. First, put your hands on each item you own, ask yourself if it sparks joy, and if it doesn’t, thank it for its service and get rid of it or donate it. By expressing gratitude, you’re giving closure to the relationship with that object, and by doing so, it becomes a lot easier to let go. Second, once only your most joy-giving belongings remain, put every item in a place where it’s easily visible and accessible. Only then, Kondo says, will you have reached the nirvana of housekeeping, and never have to clean again.

This mindful practice is known as the Konmari Method and the objective is not just to clean, but to ultimately feel happiness living within your environment. Approach it by category, not by room. Kondo recommends starting with clothing, leaving the most sentimental objects for last because your decision-making skills will sharpen throughout the process. Also, she insists doing ‘a little bit at a time’, is a total myth. Do each category all at once and without music playing in the background; focus on your inner dialogue. She explains how you have a relationship with every object you own, but if it doesn’t bring you a sense of joy, thank it for its service and discard it guilt free. However, Kondo explains; “The act of discarding things on its own will never bring joy to your life. Discarding is not the point; what matters is keeping those things that bring you joy.”

Out with the old, in with the new. Releasing unneeded burdens allows for space to breathe, for possibility. The art of decluttering is a form of self care. Expressing gratitude for the items before you bid them farewell massively improves mental health. Likewise, donations invite positive energy and a sense of community adds years onto a lifespan. Studies even show if you lose weight on your bookshelf, you’ll lose weight on your body, too.

So take a page from Kondo’s book. Give yourself a bit of mental clarity and freedom by creating an environment that is filled with things you truly love. Make that old storage room your new sanctuary instead. One less shirt in your wardrobe means less time spent dressing in the morning, leaving more time to prepare a delicious breakfast instead.  As Kondo says; “The real tragedy is to live your entire life without anything that brings you joy and never even realize it.”

So go forth – love your belongings, love your environment and love life!