Saying goodbye to your things is more than an exercise in tidying up. It’s an exercise in thinking about true happiness. Fumio Sasaki

Meet Fumio Sasaki, the new Japanese king of decluttering.  ‘goodbye, things’ is the new bestselling book from Japan that explores our continual desire to covet new things in the misconception that it will make us happier. Fumio had been living in a small studio apartment in Tokyo surrounded by material possessions that had begun to control his life and his happiness. He could not throw anything away. When he came across the concept of minimalism – reducing your belongings to just the essential – he slowly started to change his life.

He sold or got rid of 95% of his belongings and now, ten years later, he subsists on a skeleton of material essentials and lives a much more content life as a result. His closet is home to three shirts, four pairs of trousers, four pairs of socks and not much else. His kitchenware is even more sparse and purposely does not include enough to entertain for more than one person. But this doesn’t detract him from enjoying life, in fact it allows him to have more quality time with his friends (dining in restaurants or their houses) and has more disposable income to enjoy true life experiences.

Goodbye, things is a humble and honest insight into minimalism. Most of us could never imagine discarding almost all of our worldly possessions but his concept is clear and makes sense on a basic abstract level. We can change our lives for the better if we pepper it with just a few of Fumio’s 52 tips. Is there really happiness in having less? We have given it a go at being minamistic ourselves and have boiled it down to a stark 10 which was a feat in itself.  Read on for the ultimate in Spring cleaning.

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Here are 10 steps you can take to living a more minimalist lifestyle

1. ASK YOURSELF WHY YOU CAN’T PART WITH YOUR THINGS?

How many times have you hovered over an item about to go into a charity bag? The excuses we come up with to avoid throwing things away are endless.  We might use it again, it’s practically new, it was so expensive, it is linked to a fond memory or it was a gift from someone who passed away? Logically we know that we don’t need these things but our sense of comfort from owning them may be stronger. Discarding something requires effort but you need to ask yourself if this item was lost or broken would you really buy it again? what are the barriers stopping you from making that first step?

2. FEAR OF REGRET 

We live in the fear that if we part with our things then we will regret it later. And that is the fear that prevents us from saying goodbye to our ten year old, practically new, leather jacket. Surely it will come in handy one day? The truth is the hardest part is actually mentally deciding that you no longer need the jacket. Fumio believes that once it has gone off in the bag you will never think of it again.

2. DISCARD SOMETHING RIGHT NOW

That’s right, discard something right now, this very instant. We’ll wait. Done it?  One of the quotes from the book really resonated with us: “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”. So you just need to start.  Begin with items that are clearly junk, charging cables from old phones, chipped or broken tableware, clothes with holes in them, jigsaws that are missing a piece (you will never find it!). Just fire them in a bag and say goodbye.

3. MINIMISE THINGS YOU HAVE IN MULTIPLES

Can of worms opened. Fumio talks about discarding the 2nd and 3rd pair of scissors lying about the house. He can’t possibly mean we need to look at our handbag collection? Really? We’ve tried – it’s not going to happen.  However discarding almost burnt out candles, tatty old tea towels, that we can do.

4. TAKE PHOTOS OF ITEMS THAT ARE TOUGH TO PART WITH

If the fear of regret resonates with you then taking photos of items that are hard to discard might help. It helps to preserve the memories you associate with these belongings. Fumio tells us that throwing away your material possessions and throwing away your memories are two completely different actions.  His example was taking a photo of his favourite nail clippers before he got rid of them. Seriously, thats the type of discard we could do without blinking! So taking a photo of a note you received as a child or a sentimental birthday card could help revisit that memory should you need it.

6. TACKLE THE NEST NOT THE PEST

Organising is not minimising. Heading off to Ikea and investing in clear storage containers and colourful boxes that look pretty will not help minimise your belongings. It may seem like a great start point but unless you are fastidious in maintaining the nest (storage) then you won’t get rid of the pest (clutter). In a way having a messy pile of paperwork on a table for a few days will be more of an impetus to declutter than if it was in a nice neat storage box that is promptly forgotten.

7. LET GO OF THE IDEA OF SOMEDAY

Here’s where you need to tackle the things we don’t need now and probably will never need. Like the warranties with electrical appliances, installation instructions for the trampoline (after putting that beast up, it’s never coming down!), or how about the little leftover screw that came with the bookshelf you erected. Honestly, you are never going to wake up in the middle of the night in a sweat thinking ‘if only I kept that screw!’.

8. SAY GOODBYE TO WHO YOU USED TO BE

This is possibly the most emotive step in in your quest to minimalism and may be a little difficult for some. Fumio says that holding onto things from the past is the same as clinging onto an image of yourself in the past. Old homework journals, school books, a favourite old t-shirt from the days when you were footloose and fancy free in fact hold you back from living your life right now. Being brave and letting go of some of those items will help you move forward and live a fuller life now.

9. FEEL THE SPARK OF JOY?

You may be familiar with Marie Kondo’s 2010 bestseller ‘The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Kondo, another Japanese specialist in the art of decluttering has a killer phrase she continually refers to: does it spark joy? She talks about the emotion you feel when you touch an object and by asking yourself the question ‘does it spark joy?’ really makes you get to the nub of it’s value. This works particularly well with clothes and having read the book last year we can attest to it’s success.

10. THE THINGS WE SAY GOODBYE TO ARE THE THINGS WE’LL REMEMBER FOREVER

Sitting amongst a pile of memorabilia from times past deciding how to part with them is a heart wrenching ordeal. It is only in the act of parting with such things that you realise the importance of them. Whether you photograph or scan them for posterity, the sheer time you spend pondering and remembering them means that the memory will be ingrained in your heart forever.

Goodbye, things by Fumio Sasaski, published by Penguin Books. All images courtesy of Penguin Books.

Fumio Sasaki’s minimalist wardrobe
Fumio’s bare essentials kitchenware. Dinner for one anybody?

Terms & Conditions

This giveaway is available  to UK  & Ireland only. You must be 18 years or older to enter. Giveaway opens Tuesday 8th May 2017 and ends at midnight 31st May 2017.  Morello Life will notify the winner within 2 working days of the competition ending by email. Once contacted, winners must respond to Morello Life with their postal address within 3 working days to claim their prize. After this date, if Morello Life has not received an address, a new winner may be selected. We will take reasonable measures to ensure your prize is packaged carefully, but once the prize has been posted, Morello Life cannot be made responsible for any item delayed, lost or damaged.