Tag Archives: Essential

I Have Been Decluttering for Two Years

13 Aug

I love this.

Image Source: Door

This makes me panic.

Image Source: Sales MOMS Network

Even this is too much for me.

Image Source: Dying of Cute

I have been decluttering for the past two years.

Image Source: Simply Stated

I only buy what can fit into a suitcase.

I recently threw away 7 kgs of university notes.

Image Source: The Way of Improvement Leads Home

I still have CDs, books and notebooks to sort out.

Image Source: State Library of Victoria

I can’t wait to declutter my home completely.

Image Source: Minimalisti

Related Posts:

The Art of the Essential

The Art of the Essential II

The Art of the Essential III

Confessions of a Book Abuser

Confessions of a Book Abuser

3 Mar

I can hear them mocking me as I walk past.

“She only bought me because I was pretty.”

“She bought me because I have a good reputation.”

“She picked me because I won a prize.”

“She took me because I was cheap.”

These are my books, taunting me daily with the truth.

“She hasn’t even read any of us!” exclaims one.

“No, she just likes to have us on show,” puts in another.

“Well, I don’t mind. I’m better off on her shelves than in a box in the attic,” confesses a third.

“Good for you! But I’m adored by millions across the world and she hasn’t even read my blurb yet!” bursts out a fourth.

I admit it – I completely mistreat my books. Firstly, I buy them, giving them the (false) hope that they now have a caring new owner. I put them on my shelves and for the first week or so I look at them lovingly, giving them the (once again, false) impression that I will soon be taking them to the park, to bed or on holiday with me. I then leave them gathering dust for months, or years, and finally, realising that they are taking up too much space, give them away. I’m surprised that I haven’t been reported to the police yet, despite all these years of book-abuse.

I realised recently that the possession of so many unread books goes completely against my (or should I say, Dominique Loreau’s) Art of the Essential theory: keep a material possession only if you need it or love it.

At the moment, I own books because they look good on my shelves. They decorate my apartment and fill up empty space. They also do what all material possessions do – or, what we want our material possessions to do – they reflect some sort of trait in the owner. In the same way as people buy expensive watches to show to the world that they have a well-paid and important job, or a designer bag to show wealth, or an exclusive penthouse to show success, many people own large quantities of books to “prove” their intelligence.

Many of us put up hundreds of books on our shelves, in a visible place, to persuade ourselves and others that we are well-educated and well-cultured. After all, there’s not a more effective or quicker way of summarising our tastes, our beliefs and our persuasions than by a carefully-chosen book collection. Our visible book collections are a way of saying “I read and own (insert author/poet/philopher’s name), therefore I am (insert adjective)”.

In a lot of cases, a large book collection does not mean that its owner is a book-lover, but, on the contrary – a book-abuser. S/he uses books as mere tools to build up a reputation or a self-image, which is, in most cases, a false reflection of reality. For example, despite owning a few hundred books, I read little, and often feel that I have a very limited knowledge of literature.

In truth, knowledge and culture have nothing to do with the quantity of books we own and display. My grandparents, who have been avid readers their whole lives, only own about fifty books between them – they carry their favourite stories, ideas and quotes in their minds. What’s more, they keep the books that they do own in a closed cupboard; my grandma was shocked to hear that my own books stand in open shelves, where they “can gather dust and be damaged by sunlight”. To her, “books are for reading, not for displaying”.

I have decided that I shall not buy or borrow any books until I have read all those that are currently on my shelves. I shall keep a book only if I love it or need it for future reference, and I will use the library, not Amazon, whenever I am in need of inspiration and enlightenment. I shall use books for their original purpose – education, inspiration and entertainment – rather than the decorative purpose that they have been given.

My book-abusing days are over and my books shall gather dust no more!

 

***

Do you store unread or unnecessary books on your shelves?

Do you tend to keep books because they ‘look good’, even though they no longer serve you?

If you own very few books, what are you criteria for the ones you do choose to keep?

Art of the Essential Part III

22 Nov

I couldn’t believe it when I saw that our neighbours, a young couple in their early twenties, were back for the tenth time to move out their possessions. During their move out of their one-bedroom into a two-bedroom flat they had already loaded a 7-seater four times, a moving van twice and their own car at least four times. Their main reason for moving was “the need for an extra room to fit in all of their things”.

Among the things that my neighbours were packing away were VHS tapes, games for consoles they no longer owned, furniture they never used, broken electric appliances and various items of home decoration that was mostly kept in drawers. It shocked me to see just how much energy and time they were wasting to move these useless things from one home to another. And to think that they would be paying extra rent for the sole purpose of storing these unused things!…and that they would now have a whole room just dedicated to junk!

I couldn’t understand why anyone would choose to have so many possessions – so many useless possessions, at that. I have been living with only the bare essentials for almost a year now. Last autumn, inspired by Dominique Loreau, I started sorting out all of my junk (because that is precisely what most of it was), trying to get it down to the essentials (see The Art of the Essential, The Art of the Essential Part II). During the first few rounds of sorting, I reduced the quantity of my possessions by about three-quarters. I then moved to a different country and have been living with about 3-4 suitcase-worth of things for the past ten months. And to me that is more than enough – I’m already worrying about all the books and magazines building up on my shelves!

I follow these few simple rules to ensure that I don’t end up storing unnecessary junk:

1) Don’t buy it. If I don’t need it or don’t love it, I don’t buy it. Even when I ‘treat’ myself, I still buy either something I need or love.

2) Use the library. Books take up a lot of space and weigh a lot. I usually only buy and keep books that I love and which I am sure to read more than once. If I can’t find them in the library, I buy them in second-hand shops and give them to charity once I’ve read them.

3) Sort as you go. As soon as I know that something isn’t serving me anymore, I put it up for sale or take it to charity immediately. That way, I avoid build-up of junk in my cupboards and basement, saving me space, time and energy.

4) Set a deadline. “If my chair doesn’t get sold on ebay after two months, I will give it to charity”. If we don’t set ourselves deadlines, we will keep holding on to our junk.

5) Rules for freebies. If someone, after having sorted out their own things, offers me free clothes, books, furniture etc., I ask myself “If this was on sale in a shop, would I buy it?”. Keep, if yes, give back, if no.

7) Make your own home decorations. Pen pots, candle holders, curtains, folders…there are so many things we can make ourselves using cardboard, paints, fabric and a bit of imagination. Once we’re bored with these things or need to move, we can just throw them away or recycle them.

What rules do you go by to avoid the build-up of superfluous possessions?

The Art of the Essential, Part II

12 Apr

For the past two months, I have been living with only a suitcase-worth of possessions. Three pairs of shoes, three pairs of trousers, a dozen tops, two jackets, three novels, two poetry books, a make-up bag, a laptop and a couple of notebooks. For the past two months I have been experiencing the art of the essential.

Living with fewer possessions has had some amazing effects on my life:

I have saved time: having a limited amount of clothes to choose from, I did not spend hours trying out different outfits for one outing.

I have been tidier: fewer things means less mess.

I have had more space: seeing as my possessions fit in one wardrobe and one cupboard, the rest of the space is free, for movement, for dance, for yoga…

I have had a lot of light in the apartment: fewer things means more open space, which means more light.

I have been calmer: in my previous home, I had around forty unread books and a wardrobe of unworn clothes. I would feel guilty about not reading the books and not wearing the clothes on which I had spent money. Now, seeing as I make use of everything in my possession, I do not experience a feeling of waste, greed or stress. Instead, I have a feeling of comfort and simplicity.

I have had more time to do the things I love: I spend less time tidying up and no time at all sorting my things out, which gives me more time to do things that I enjoy.

I have had more opportunities to be creative: rather than obsessing over the world inside my apartment, my thoughts open up to the world beyond my walls.

I have focused on the things I do, rather than on the things I own: in modern society, it is most often our possessions and not our actions that define us. Having little possessions, I have been able to concentrate more on defining myself through what I do, rather than through what I own.

I have seen others differently: now that I define myself through what I do, I also define other people by their actions, instead of their clothes, gadgets, cars, or accessories. This has given me a whole new vision of the world.

Living with fewer possessions has many positive effects on our lives. It does not mean that we should deprive ourselves, but that we should simply reduce our possessions to the essentials: what we need and what we love. Everything else has no place in our home, our mind and our body; everything else brings us negative energy.

April is a perfect time to do a spring clean, so why not take this opportunity to clear that clutter that blocks your energy?

A great book on this subject is Clear Your Clutter, which explains the negative energetic and psychological effects of hoarding and the positive ones of clearing.

A New Country, A New Adventure!

3 Mar

Three weeks ago, I moved to a new country. I packed all of my essentials into one suitcase and set off to start a new life. The lifestyle in my new environment is different to the one I’m used to in one of the world’s central capitals, which means that I have felt a bit lost and confused at times. However, once I remind myself of the reasons for which I decided to move,  I am able to see what a wonderful and exciting opportunity this is.

I am here to…

  • be with the person I love
  • be independent
  • have a calmer lifestyle
  • be closer to nature
  • discover a new place
  • discover a different way of living
  • meet new people
  • lead a more active and outdoor lifestyle
  • have more fresh air
  • grow my own flowers and herbs (in the outdoor space that I now have)
  • be in a warmer climate
  • cycle
  • spend time in the countryside
  • buy fresh food from local producers
  • …and so – eat better food
  • have a new challenge (of starting life in a new place)
  • go on road trips
  • take evening walks on the beach
  • lead a simpler life

Let this adventure begin!