When Marie Kondo first published her book about Tidying Up, people around the world made “does it spark joy?” a household saying. All of a sudden, everyone was using this criteria to select material possessions to keep and things to toss out the door.
We all know that downsizing and simplifying are both great ideas, and actually necessary ones in the culture we live in. For most people, gathering possessions sparks joy. According to some estimates, our homes have over 300,000 objects in them from staples to appliances. Not everything we own sparks joy, but they do have a purpose. So where do we draw the lines and begin to downsize with purpose?
You can start decluttering at any age, but as we grow older, and choose to live in smaller spaces, we no longer have a choice. As maintenance and repair costs begin to take over, energy and funding decrease, or we are no longer actually using all the space, a smaller footprint allows us to free ourselves of the burdens of home care, cleaning, maintenance, and household headaches. That kind of freedom truly sparks joy!
Determining what to discard and what to keep is crucial to an ordered, happy life, so here are some practical tips to help you get started.
“I have always had a boat and in 1999, when my wife was alive and I was still working, we took it across the channel and moored it in the French canal system. When I retired, we set off south through beautiful villages and lots of locks. If we liked a particular place we’d stay there for three or four days buying local produce, cycling to the bakers – it was a relaxing way of life. Every six weeks we used to catch a train to come home to see the family and then we’d go back again after a couple of weeks. Now, I go to the boat for two or three weeks every spring, summer and autumn. It’s my place in the sun – it just happens to float.”
Excess possessions do not bring happiness, but only distract us from the things that do. Downsizing truly does “spark joy” when it allows us to live our life’s full potential, when we are no longer defined by our possessions and when we find peace in our surroundings.
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