1. Simplification Cornerstone: Whatever You Bring In Must Elicit Joy
You may not know this about me, but I am a simplicity NUT. I didn’t use to be that way. I actually used to be quite the person of excess… as in excess stuff. Everywhere. I came from a mindset that shopping was a way to be happy and fulfilled (even though I always felt guilty about shopping for myself afterward), and I’m not going to totally argue with the fact that, yes, I still have some major shopping urges that get filled every once in a while. Hello! It’s almost FALL which means booties and sweaters!
The problem here is that I would go on shopping sprees, buy things I thought I loved (but really didn’t), and after a while, those things wouldn’t bring the joy that they initially had. So then I would go shopping again, and this cycle would start over. Meanwhile, I was coming home and finding that I didn’t have room for these things that I thought I loved. And they would sit in the back of my closet after a bit.
But, I digress. Now, the thing with accumulating a lot of stuff is that it can make life a little difficult, for many reasons. Having too much stuff can cause:
- Decision anxiety… I have so many options! What do I wear?! What do I cook for dinner?
- Guilt… I bought four pairs of shoes and two of them have barely been worn, and now they’re sitting there unused by anyone. What a waste!
- Anger… You spent HOW much on that Roomba when we have a perfectly great vacuum?!
- Frustration with lack of space… How are we possibly going to fit that 62” TV in our living room? Our 40” barely fits on that wall!).
And that’s just the beginning.
The Solution: Anything you purchase for yourself or your home must bring you joy. This is a cornerstone of Marie Kondo’s general philosophy. I’m sure you’ve heard all about her, but if you haven’t, watch this video. She is the guru of tidy!
This philosophy really came in handy for my family when we bought our first home in Denver. At the time, we were determined to live more simply. We bought one side of a 1900 duplex in Denver’s Historic Baker neighborhood - close enough to walk to everything around the neighborhood(train, parks, shops, cafes, restaurants, bars, library, book shops, etc), but enough space for the four of us to live happily (dog included), AND we have a backyard. WIN. However, the home is only 650 square feet and being a MUCH older home, there was ONE closet. So we did what any sane new parents would do, and we had our own Tiny House Nation/Marie Kondo-inspired purge of 2014. Which brings me to my next point…
2. The Great Purge of 2014: Get Rid Of Everything That Does NOT Bring Joy
During our purge, we evaluated every. single. thing. that we owned. This was a purge that took a lot of time for us, to be honest, and it is something that we continue to do when the seasons change. You don’t have to do it all in one weekend.
Keeping around a lot of clutter and excess stuff makes it hard to focus on what you need to focus on: improving yourself and getting that job or making that career change that you really, really desire.
When we keep excess shit around from our past, we hold back from becoming who we are. That stuff takes up room for who we’re meant to be. It takes up space and keeps us stuck. Wouldn’t you rather free up space for the new you, and the things that elicit joy?
Tip: start with things that you aren’t super attached to in the first place, and don't touch anything of your family's. They need to do the purge on their belongings on their own.
When we were faced with the reality of going from a 2000 sqft home to a 650 sqft home, we really evaluated furniture, lamps, clothing, kitchenware, old toiletries, junk drawers, linens, shoes, artwork, paper work/files… EVERYTHING. If you start with things you aren’t super attached to, it just gets easier to purge from there. By the time you get to mementos and things that have more meaning, it feels a little easier because you’re already groovin'.
Best Part: donate or sell the items you’re parting with. Someone will love them and be grateful for them, and they’ll fulfill their purpose. One of the best ways we can express gratitude is to donate what we no longer need or want to people who do have a want and a need for it.
3. Simplified Kitchen, Better Health
A major area that people neglect when they get their house in order, is to evaluate their FOOD. Food is another thing that you bring into your home (regularly!) What we eat affects our mood, body and energy. Having a ton of choices can also elicit some decision anxiety.
If you’re doing all of this wonderful work on your mental and emotional health, why wouldn’t you want to improve your physical health, too?
Purge food that’s been sitting around that does not elicit joy or won’t make you feel good. Get rid of the food that makes you feel really awful after you eat it. C’mon… you know what it is. For me, I love inhaling a bag of Ruffles in one sitting. I always, without fail, feel awful afterward. Bloated for two days, sluggish, and it always ruins my workout to get cramps or feel dehydrated, which is how chips with a ton of salt and no nutritional value will make you feel.
Here’s the fun part of this, the things that are beautiful, natural, make you feel good, the things you want visible so you’re more likely to pick them to eat, can be displayed. In fact, display them beautifully if you can, in a lovely bowl that you love on your counter or table. Get some fruits and veggies that can sit out without spoiling. Add some color to the room with them. And, bonus, every time you get a craving for something, you’ve got some SIMPLE, healthier choices that will help your mind, body and energy right in front of you.
Donate the food you’re parting with to a homeless shelter. Someone out there needs it.
4. Organize Your Life
I will admit, this isn’t my forte! It’s important, nonetheless. Now that you have more space for the things you have left, you can relish the ability to see everything you need easily with a quickly opened door or drawer. Marie Kondo has some amazing tips for folding in her book, and I also love reading tips in ApartmentTherapy.com. Here are some of my favorites: