Photo by: Paola K; Kyoto, Japan
I’m sitting right now in my favorite place in the living room: At my writing desk, gazing at the wonderful forest that happen to be right in front of my house. I took a small break to observe my surroundings: I like to see my living space tidy, clean, organized… nothing should be out of place. That gives me a good feeling, you know? Like a feeling that things are going well.
Disclaimer: You don´t want to see the same living space I am describing now when my kids are home; that would give you a complete different picture; more like a war room, a place that just got hit by a hurricane…. but that’s another story.
I think everybody can get inspired and motivated when surrounded by harmony, cleanliness and good distributed space.
The practice of decluttering or also known as minimalism, is a movement that started back in the 1950s in the Arts but only became a popular lifestyle trend a couple of years ago in the western world, when our friend Marie Kondo became worldwide famous with her book “The magic of order”. I could see the Youtube channel exploding with new Youtubers trying to get their share of the pie of fame by showing off the implementation of the “Konmari methods” in their own closets and living spaces.
Marie Kondo’s promise behind motivating you to get organized and throw off your old stuff, is that if you live in a tidy place, you will have more time to do the things you really love and also you will achieve peace of mind. In other words, her philosophy is: Tidy up your place so you can tidy up your life.
I actually loved the idea and as many others, I happily went on to try her methods to see if it worked for me…. until it didn’t.
Turns out, I struggled to even make time for the suggested decluttering rituals; First of all, the KonMari method suggest that you take at least four to five complete days of your life to perform the radical decluttering exercise. I read the book a couple of years ago, but I still recall the fundamentals: First of all, you have to classify all your stuff in five categories: Books, clothes, documents, miscellaneous (here can get as wide as the wind…) and sentimental objects.
The second step is to dedicate a day for each category to actually start the decluttering process. Let’s say today is the book day (would be a hard one for me). I have to collect all books I have in all the rooms and once I have all piled up, then I have to start the Konmari ritual: Take one by one and ask them… do you spark me joy? For practical reasons, you should be able to respond with a quick “yes” or “no”; but I know myself… for every book I recalled a story starting when I bought it, or who gave it to me… how I was feeling that day, and if the book was a great read or mainly shitty….by the time I end my evaluation, already twenty good minutes passed by. Next one… another 230 to go… good luck!
There were other easy days for sure. Like when I had to get rid of “miscellaneous”. It was not that hard to say goodbye to those extra pair of napkins, or those old computer cables from old laptops that I kept for no reason. Those things definitely do not spark me joy…
After my own KonMari experiment, I felt really great. The house was tidy, it had a more minimalistic look, and I felt compelled to keep it that way forever and ever. But then like an alcoholic fall back on the bad habit, after one day being sober he says to himself “this feels great, never again” and the next day someone offers a beer and basically until there came the good intention.
The days passed and the usual chaos started to come back. The beautifully arranged, rolled up clothes organized by colors started to mix again following happily the second law of thermodynamics (basically following the law of mess). The minimalistic feeling started vanishing as we got new(!) stuff, hey, don’t judge me so quickly, who can say no to summer sales?
I saw with my own eyes how the hard five days of work spent in applying the Konmari method vanished like those sand grains diluting in the vast ocean.
So, what happened?
Clearly, a lack of discipline. The commitment to keep everything orderly and spotless.
It didn’t work out, because I applied an external solution to an internal problem. The issue was not with the Konmari method, or any other method I could have adapted. The real thing is that I had to do the decluttering inside first.
Is a well-known fact: Life as we see it with our own eyes in the physical world, is nothing but the manifestation of our life as it is inside of us: our thoughts, our mindset, our consciousness of life.
My house cannot look permanently organized, clean and in well shape if inside of me I am a chaos. If my thoughts run from one side to the next; if I cannot even finish a sentence when I am jumping out to the next thing; when I say I will go jogging for 20 minutes and I end up sitting at the sofa eating nachos and watching tv.
So, I decided to challenge the KonMari method and start the other way around: First I took care to declutter my mind, my thoughts… and that alone will make the work “in the outside”. I trusted that if I manage to keep my thinking straight and clear, it will be reflected automatically in my environment.
This time the method didn´t disappointed me. I can happily report a great improvement on my home and my life in general, the moment I became self-conscious of my own thinking pattern.
Here is the Paola’s method of minimalism and decluttering (from the inside out):
Understand who you are. Not just superficially, but profoundly.
Observe your thinking pattern; Are your thoughts in chaos?
Decide to think the minimalistic way: One thought after the other. It takes effort and conscious decision, but it can be done
Get rid of endless sources of information and focus in getting your information from few specific places; for the rest, make the conscious decision to discard it.
When a thought manifest itself as a serious command of action, do it
Be consistent with what you think and what you do
Repeat … many times over
Build the discipline of having an orderly life
Do small steps, but everyday
Voilá! Maybe you will not see results the first days, but I assure you, if you can manage to bring order in your thoughts, recognize your intrinsic values and live in a coherent and harmonious way with yourself, the rest (ehem…the chaos in da house…) will solve by itself, because you will no longer accept that kind of living style in your life.
And what happens if you prefer to live life the chaotic way?
¡Nada mi amigo! as long as you keep having fun 🙂 besides, everybody needs a bit of chaos once in a while, right?