Is there happiness in having less? In these tips from Goodbye, things, Fumio Sasaki explains how to get rid of all the stuff that's holding us back
Fumio Sasaki is a regular guy who was stressed at work, insecure, and constantly comparing himself to others. Until, one day, he decided to throw away everything he didn't truly need.
The results were instant. Without all his stuff, Sasaki finally felt true freedom and a new kind of happiness. In Goodbye, Things, he shares his personal experience. Here is his list of things to remember if you are thinking of decluttering your own life.
1. Discard the preconception that you can’t discard your things
We only think we’re unable to part with our possessions. But we’re all able to part with our things; we just need to become aware of the reasons why we’ve been unable to do this so far.
You’re certainly not to blame. You’re simply inexperienced—that’s all there is to it. It wasn’t a personality change I went through; I simply learned the techniques and developed a habit of getting rid of excess.
2. Discarding something takes skill
3. When you discard something, you gain more than you lose
There are more things to gain from eliminating excess than you might imagine: time, space, freedom, and energy, for example.
You can’t help but fixate on something that you’re about to throw away because it’s right in front of you. And the potential gains from this action aren’t visible. But trust me, there is actually more to gain than there is to lose.
4. Ask yourself why you can’t part with your things
5. Minimizing is difficult, but it’s not impossible
6. There are limits to the capacity of your brain, your energy, and your time
7. Discard something right now
We think we can’t become a minimalist until our lives have settled down. But it’s actually the other way around; we won’t be able to settle down until we’re living a minimalist life.
8. There isn’t a single item you’ll regret throwing away
9. Start with things that are clearly junk
10. Minimize anything you have in multiples
It’s easy to minimize things you have in multiple numbers. Go on, take a look. Do you have two or three pairs of scissors? Do you have a bunch of unused ballpoint pens?
You can still cut with fewer scissors. You can still write with fewer pens. Try to reduce the multiples of anything you have to one.
11. Get rid of it if you haven’t used it in a year
12. Discard it if you have it for the sake of appearance
We’re of course all concerned with how others see us. Everyone goes the extra mile to project their intended image. The possessions that we truly enjoy, however, are the things we use often that don’t require a lot of effort to maintain.
And while the trappings of a successful lifestyle are tempting, you might want to consider letting go of the things you keep just to show off to others.
13. Differentiate between things you want and things you need
14. Take photos of the items that are tough to part with
15. It’s easier to revisit your memories once you go digital
16. Our things are like roommates, except we pay their rent
17. Organizing is not minimizing
We Japanese have a custom of tackling major housecleaning at the end of the year. But as time passes, we become busy with other things, and naturally, we’re back with our clutter a year later.
Instead of relying on organization techniques, you should first focus on decreasing the amount of things you have to put away. Once you do that, your space will naturally become less cluttered; the cycle will be broken
18. Tackle the nest (storage) before the pest (clutter)
19. Leave your “unused” space empty
20. Let go of the idea of “someday”
21. Say goodbye to who you used to be
When discarding anything, it’s important to consider whether it is something that you need right now. In the same way that trying to prepare for someday in the future is futile, so is clinging to what used to be in the past.
Holding on to things from the past is the same as clinging to an image of yourself in the past. If you’re the least bit interested in changing anything about yourself, I suggest you be brave and start letting things go. Leave only the items that you need moving forward from this very moment.
More about the author
'Meet the new king of decluttering' - The Times
'Take your spring cleaning to the next level with Goodbye, Things by Fumio Sasaki' - Parade
'There's happiness in having less. If you are anything like how I used to be - miserable, constantly comparing yourself with others, or just believing your life sucks - I think you should try saying goodbye to some of your things'
Fumio Sasaki is a writer in his thirties who lives in a tiny studio in Tokyo with three shirts, four pairs of trousers, four pairs of socks and not much else. A few years ago, he realised that owning so much stuff was weighing him down - so he started to get rid of it.
In this hit Japanese bestseller, Sasaki explores the philosophy behind minimalism and offers a set of straightforward rules - discard it if you haven't used it in a year; be a borrower; find your uniform; keep photos of the things you love - that can help all of us lead simpler, happier, more fulfilled lives.