My mission to declutter my home
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.