My mis­sion to de­clut­ter my home

Global Times – Metro Beijing - - TWO CENTS - By Alok Joshi

My re­cently con­cluded “mis­sion im­pos­si­ble” was how to de­clut­ter my closet of clothes and ac­ces­sories. Marie Condo and her Ja­panese KonMari method came to the res­cue of this male shopa­holic and hoarder. I went through some YouTube videos of peo­ple prac­tic­ing the KonMari method of de­clut­ter­ing. Her book, The LifeChang­ing Magic of Tidy­ing Up, in­spired me to em­bark on this seem­ingly in­sur­mount­able mis­sion.

Ten years in Bei­jing with its mush­room­ing shop­ping malls and my shop­ping habits have led me to amass huge piles of clothes. Ev­ery time I move to an apart­ment (al­most 10, cour­tesy of greedy land­lords), I throw away some stuff. But I kept on buy­ing as well; I bought more than I dis­carded.

The fo­cus of my pre­vi­ous purg­ing at­tempts used to be what I needed to dis­card – things that I have not used for six months or some­thing that does not look good on me.

Marie Kondo’s ap­proach is dif­fer­ent: de­cide what you want to keep; what “sparks joy.” If a par­tic­u­lar out­fit brings joy, re­tain it. If you are hes­i­tant, throw out, donate it or sell it. It’s an emo­tion­ally in­tu­itive ques­tion that needs an in­stant an­swer. As sug­gested in the book, I took all my clothes out by cat­e­gory and spread them on my bed. I was over­whelmed by the sheer clut­ter. Shop­ping guilt dawned on me. I had paid a lot but only wore some clothes a few times. They were just sit­ting ig­nored in my closet. I also came to re­al­ize that I was wear­ing the same fa­vorite clothes again and again.

I ra­tio­nal­ized by telling my­self that a dis­carded item had given me joy when I bought it, but now it had served its pur­pose and I should let go. I made three piles – keep, donate and throw. It was a tir­ing process to pick up, open and fold ev­ery piece of cloth­ing.

The KonMari method also taught me how to fold clothes in a tidy way.

Af­ter re­peat­ing the process once or twice a day, I got rid of at least 25 per­cent of my clut­ter. As I counted, I dis­carded 20 out of 92 shirts, 15 out of 65 trousers, 16 out of 57 T-shirts and four out 26 scarves. Most dif­fi­cult were the shoes but I man­aged to con­vince my­self to throw away six pairs.

This de­clut­ter­ing ex­er­cise taught me a few lessons. We don’t hang on to things; we hang on to emo­tions at­tached to those things. It’s bet­ter to get rid of some­thing that re­minds us of some neg­a­tive feel­ings with some­one or some event.

Self-in­tro­spec­tion is a good way to empty our minds of un­wanted neg­a­tive emo­tions to make room for cre­ative ideas. Some of us think hold­ing on makes us stronger, but some­times it is let­ting go. A min­i­mal­is­tic ap­proach to life can be richer than liv­ing in abun­dance. It’s bet­ter to love a few things than like many things. In­vest in gath­er­ing ex­pe­ri­ence than ma­te­rial things.

This in­cred­i­bly sim­ple, yet pow­er­ful ques­tion of “does it bring me joy?” can be ap­plied to ev­ery­thing in our lives, be­yond ma­te­rial things.

I hope to con­tinue my mis­sion im­pos­si­ble and make this re­flec­tion a rou­tine part of my life.

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