Over the holidays I was exposed to the documentary film Minimalism, which is about simplifying life through letting go of material things. This film has since come up in quite a few conversations I’ve had over the past few weeks and the concept of finding more happiness with fewer things seems to be striking a chord with many.
After seeing the movie, I recalled that the book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo had been recommended to me last year, which seemed to be in alignment with the values set forth in the Minimalism film. Additionally, the book offered the promise of a life transformation along with some practical ‘how-to’ instruction. I tore through the book last Friday, and truly enjoyed its readability and simple instruction. I would suggest it for anyone looking to make a little space and/or a big change!
In addition to the clearcut instruction: “discard first… keep only things that will spark joy in your life,” Kondo also invites us to consider the meaning of our possessions in our lives – both at the time of procurement and in the present moment. As a way to further explore any resistance that we may have to letting go of certain items, we are instructed to inquire what is the item’s true purpose, and has this item already fulfilled its role in your life?
One of my favorite passages is this one in which Kondo reflects on her relationship to her things, and her early challenges with trust and sharing her emotions: “Because I was poor at developing bonds of trust with people, I had an unusually strong attachment to things.” I wondered as I read these words how common of an issue this is for us in today’s society when hoarding has become a phenomenon affecting as many as 5% of the world’s population.
Another element of this book that is near to my heart includes cultivating appreciation for our belongings, honoring them for the beauty, protection, or efficiency that they bring to our lives. As gratitude is a practice scientifically proven to combat depression, including our belongings in this process can help us to further strengthen the neural pathways of appreciation and boost our serotonin and dopamine, which ultimately can improve our relationships with ourselves and others.