Today begins the new calendar year, although this whole season can be seen as a time of renewal and re-setting. What better way to greet 2015 than by taking a little time to let go the things in your life that no longer bring you happiness?
TIDYING WITH (and for) JOY
To thoroughly appreciate the New Year, and to bring your home into a more modernist state of harmony, consider identifying the things in your life that really bring you joy and cherishing them. Divesting yourself of the rest (a byproduct, not a purpose) gives more space, time, and awareness to the best things in your life.
“Being surrounded by things that spark joy makes you happy.”
Before letting each thing go, thank it for being in your life and think about what you have learned from it. Sometimes just this attitude can make the difference between peacefully letting a no-longer-useful item leave your life, or hanging onto it through worry or sentiment.
This is the philosophy of Marie Kondo, enumerated in her recently translated book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing. The concept has raced through Japan, spurring a TV drama, and been a best seller in Europe.
A POSITIVE PROCESS FOR BETTER RESULTS
Many people use January 1st as a catalyst to make change in their life but New Years resolutions can often backfire.
Amy Cuddy, Psychologist and Harvard Business School prof, says that making unreasonably stark goals framed in negativity sets us up to fail. When we deal in absolutes there’s a feeling of binary success or failure, and the first crack in determination seems like a reason to give up.
Instead of coming from a place of shame “too much junk in your life” and vowing to get rid of it all, Kondo’s philosophy encourages you to appreciate everything you have, one object at a time, divest yourself of what no longer gives you joy. The end result is a home filled only with the objects you most use and love.
“In essence, ought to be the act of restoring balance among people, their possessions and the house they live in.”
Kondo recommends that people organize their things in stages but not (as in many traditional methods of decluttering) one drawer at a time. Its important to gather ALL the items of one type into one spot, and evaluate them all in one go. But she advises decluttering in a particular order.
Begin with clothes – with the easy metric of “does it fit?” to help you make strides. Then work up through books, papers, miscellaneous items and conclude with personal momentos – those require a built up strength of emotional cleansing.
A NEW LIFE FULL OF JOY
Following Kondo’s method, decluttering has a strong personal and spiritual thread, using each object that you keep or let go as a milestone in your life, a chance to evaluate where you’ve been and what you’ve learned from life, even if the lesson is simply that you don’t need that object.
The end result is a life filled only with the things you love. This dovetails so nicely with the aesthetic of modernist design – that the extra details sometimes only stand in the way of appreciating beauty of material or form. Once you strip away all the things you don’t love, you’re left with a joyful existence.
What a wonderful way to greet 2015.