Oh how I love this word. It has been my ‘mantra’ for the last two years and whenever I say it to myself I can feel my heart rate drop to that of a contented sloth dangling from a shady tree.
Last year, one of the ways we brought simplification to our lives was by following the KonMari decluttering method. It took us exactly a year to complete, a toddler is not the ideal co-pilot for such a mission, so we had to grab windows of time when we could. We held every single item in our house and asked ourselves whether it sparked joy. If it did, it stayed, and if it didn’t, it exited the building*.
I’m embarrassed to think about just HOW MUCH STUFF got carted away; many, many, many car loads. Many car loads. So many car loads. And here’s the crazy thing…we’ve. not. missed. a. single. thing. Oh tell a lie, I ditched a pack of wooden clothes pegs I’d stored for circa 15 years and never used. The following week I decided I wanted to set up a gallery space for the Little Chap’s paintings and could’ve done with those pegs to hang his art up with. THAT is the only thing I have missed. Truly. How weird is that? And what does it say about our attachment to ‘stuff’? In particular stuff we didn’t use, didn’t love and, it turns out, weren’t going to miss?
The first picture below is utterly shocking to me (and Vince, I’ve just shown him and his response was ‘what the fucking hell…?’) Knowing there was a room like that in our house, I now realise took a heavy psychological toll on us (for those that don’t know us, I promise the rest of the house looked nothing like that!). I felt utterly overwhelmed by it prior to discovering KonMari; we were happytired with a fairly wakeful toddler and would chuck in the next load of outgrown baby stuff and lock the door. Out of sight out of mind, right? Wrong. It felt like an oppressive pulsating mass in the bowels of our house (I may be slightly over-egging things), but it was full of our crap, my late parent’s things including a mountain of their paperwork, a trazillion photographs and slides from three generations, plus the evidence that our tiny newborn son was growing up at the speed of light. But the KM methodology gave us a framework that felt manageable to gradually tackle it a bit at time, and slowly
the mists cleared the awful navy carpet emerged.
The central aim of KonMari is to surround yourself only with ‘joy-sparking’ items, and looking at all our possessions in this way has fundamentally changed how we live. No longer do we buy things saying ‘ah, this’ll do’. What we buy / bring into our home has to spark joy for at least one of us, otherwise we don’t get it. We’re also much more inclined to buy less and choose better quality.
“But what about loo brushes?”, I hear you cry, “how can a loo-brush spark joy?” Of course on first glance there is little obvious joy to be found in the humble loo-brush BUT there is joy to be had in a clean loo, courtesy of a well functioning loo brush, one where the brush doesn’t regularly unscrew and drop into the pan requiring deep-sea operations of retrieval. (I never imagined I’d have cause to write a paragraph with FIVE mentions of the word(s?) ‘loo-brush’ in it (Roget’s Thesaurus was of no help to me here, so loo-brush it was…SIX…gah).
KM (that’s KonMari Graduate lingo right there) has finely tuned our ‘joydars’ and it’s value has rippled out to other aspects of our lives beyond decluttering; deciding what we want to eat, how we want to spend our time, which relationships to prioritise when limited for time, what type of holiday we want, which direction to follow with creative projects. It’s given us a new lens through which we can identify the joy (or not) in how we’re living.
And most of all it has brought an intuitive simplicity to day-to-day life. We have order; places for everything so things get put away without the tiresome mental effort of deciding where to ‘shove’ it. No more hunting for the top I need, I can see everything I own at a glance. And, no exaggeration, I get a little hit of joy every time I open a drawer and unfold a perfectly folded knicker…
If you have any questions or want to share your own ‘life hacks’ that bring simplicity to your life, please do leave a note in the comments – I’d love to hear about your go-to simplifications as I’m always on the look-out for the next good ‘un…
*Caveat, as we didn’t / don’t have vast amounts of money stashed in offshore accounts (actually none) there were non-joy-sparking things we kept temporarily as they served a purpose. Those things were earmarked (in a Wunderlist list), and as and when we found joy-sparking alternatives and budget allowed they’ve been replaced – a list like that makes for wonderfully mindful shopping.