Japanese advise on decluttering and tidying

My astrological sign is cancer and for me everything is associated with a memory, and the tendency is to keep every single one of them. Not just the good.


But since I moved to Sweden with nothing more than a suit case and a heart full of dreams, I have learned that I actually don’t need so much stuff in my daily life. Of course by now, after some years here, that suit case transformed into many card boxes that I need to carry around every time I move houses. Which, for every Stockholmer with a rental home, happens very frequently.


And even though I tend to accumulate, I do know the delight that comes from having space. Mind space, and physical space.

Space allows for energy to flow, it grants peace and focus, and it invites new things to happen. It basically allows, and allowing is much better than constraining. Just like open feels better than closed, and more feels better than less – as long as you understand what kind of “more” really matters.


But habits are the hardest thing to break and changing a behavior can be really tricky. It takes some kind of insight, an aha moment that makes something click inside, to push you to make the change.


For me, in terms of decluttering, the aha moment came by watching this little great Japanese woman, Marie Kondo, speaking about her passion for tidying on this video “The Life-Changing Magic of Tiding Up“. And, I mean, if you want to know more about tidying up you definitely want to hear from a Japanese woman, right?


To sum it briefly, her approach goes like this:



1. Tidy in one shot (as quickly and completely as possible). Take a chunk of time to do it and do it. One day or one morning, decide that’s all you’re gonna do and go for it.


2. Sort by category (not location). Start with clothes, then books, then documents, then miscellaneous items and finally mementos.


3. Ask yourself: “does this spark joy?”. Use this as you primary tool for decision making on whether to keep or give away something.


This was a revolution for me. When I was trying to declutter I was always thinking of the usefulness of the thing and of course I would come up with an excuse to keep e-ve-ry-thing.


Most commonly the “Maybe one day I’ll need it”.

Well, no. If you need it you go and get a new or a second hand one.


I was even keeping presents from people I didn’t had good relations with. Why on earth was I keeping it?!

Why should I carry with me things that bring me a bad memory, and don’t inspire any joy?


All that must go.


So inspired by Marie’s method, I’ve recently said goodbye to a bunch clothes that weren’t really making me happy anymore.


(These are actually the clothes I gave away – instead of having them in my drawers, now I have a GIF of them.)


Even if the resistance to through away the bag was still there, the moment I left it in the clothing bin I felt a sensation of freedom and at the same time, even if I had less clothes then, I felt more abundant. Because I wasn’t holding on to things I didn’t really feel good about “because one day I might need it” – a mindset of scarcity – but was instead saying “I have enough, and I’ll always have what I need” – a mindset of abundance.


So I urge you to take that morning or that afternoon to declutter. Be brave and honest with yourself. Why are you holding on to things you’re not really in love with and don’t make you happy? Make a self loving decision to only carry that which is joyful to you. Why would you do it in any other way?



The universe provides but only when there’s space.

You can’t fill in a glass that is full and Spring never comes after Summer.





If you’d like to buy Marie’s book, you can find it here.

(Please note that this is not an affiliate link, so I’m not receiving any money for recommending this book.)




Share your story. How hard it is for you to declutter and what strategies to do you use that help?

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