muses whether having less is the answer to a happy life.
The Japanese have a saying that I love: discard anything that doesn’t spark joy. In this season of spring (and the cleaning that goes with it), I admit, I declutter my home more than is probably healthy for my social life. I reorganise my pantry and then continue to my wardrobe, tidying the odd cupboard along the way.
I then drift on to my parents’ house and have a red-hot go at the utensil drawer in my mother’s kitchen (the reorganisational Everest). I occasionally help the staff at Woolworths tidy the fruit and vegie pyramids, and have been known to, while sick, reorganise the piles of magazines in a GP’S waiting room.
None of this is invited nor, come to think of it, welcome. But as a journalist and a Virgo, I feel it’s my job to try to make some order out of the chaos of the universe. We all have our delusion crosses to bear, don’t we?
But as I get older and wiser (well, older at least), I’m starting to believe this doesn’t have to be confined to the home, the doctor’s surgery or the season. I think sparking the joy – all year round – might just be the key to contentment. And at the risk of getting all Tony Robbins on you, having more of less, dear reader, could be the answer to all our problems. Stay with me here. I promise I haven’t spring-cleaned my corpus callosum (the part of your brain responsible for common sense) yet. Why should we only toss tatty tea towels and weevil-chewed bags of chickpeas from 2013? And donate never-worn dresses? Let’s be more choosy about unenjoyable books and even less-enjoyable boyfriends. Let’s throw in bad mindsets. Let’s discriminate more about what we eat, play and watch. I love the adrenaline hit of a shopping purchase as much as the next person, but hands up if you have a wardrobe bulging with clothes, yet you go back to the same four pieces, day in, day out? It’s not just outfits that can be recycled. My darling granny used to say you only really have five true friends in your life. And I believe she was right. Back to Japan. Marie Kondo is the world’s best organiser (I bow down before her) and was one of Time magazine’s most influential people in 2015 (the same year most of the products in my fridge were fresh).
She firmly believes that those unable to separate from their possessions suffer from an attachment to the past or anxiety about the future.
Like me, Marie loves method, so she created one called Konmari, the Japanese art of decluttering where you gather all of your worldly belongings together and then only keep the things that “spark joy”. (Between us, we could have world domination!) She advises you to ask yourself a simple question: does an item bring you joy? If you instantly answer yes, and you love it, keep it. If it’s a no, donate or chuck it. You’ll know the feeling of joy when it hits. A great mate, the perfect jeans, a reliable boyfriend.
It’s simple and it’s powerful. And take it from me, it’s emotionally free-ing!
Asking yourself if you really need certain things, if they bring happiness, if you already own something similar; questioning whether you’re holding on to it for one day or for sentimental reasons may just be the meaning of life.
As it turns out, in this era of excess, maybe all you need in life is... less.
“I declutter my home more than is probably healthy for my social life”