Fumio Sasaki is a writer living in Tokyo with very little to his name, namely; three shirts, four pairs of trousers, four pairs of socks, a small wooden box, a desk and a roll up mattress. A few years back he realised that having so many things was weighing him down so he decided to cleanse himself of them to find out if it gave him the freedom he yearned for.

Goodbye Things

Goodbye Things

I don’t profess to be as minimalist as the author of the book, but I do believe in keeping only in your home what you use and what you love, which is why this book piqued my interest.

Despite not being entirely the same, there are many of the rules in the book that someone who is looking to downsize their things can learn from.

-       Discard anything you haven’t used in year.

-       Borrow things if you don’t know whether you want to have in your home permanently.

-       Only have clothes you wear and love.

-       Keep photos of things instead of keeping them so the memory and the access to them remains.

The premise of the book is not to see how far you can whittle your things down to- but more about how much happier you can be when you aren’t comparing yourself to others because of stuff. For him, losing things meant he lost weight, became more proactive, more sociable and is now generally happier and more grateful for the things he does have. You can’t argue with the results. I think we all benefit from a reminder of how lucky we are every now and again.

Given that this time of year is generally when we do a spot of spring cleaning- this book is very timely. You don’t need to go to the same lengths as the author if you see it as extreme but it certainly makes you reconsider the things you have in your home and what purpose they serve. It asks some pertinent questions about the things we keep. Do we have them because we cherish them or simply to communicate to others our likes and dislikes? Does that DVD collection tell people you are into movies? Does the crammed booked shelf tell people you are a prolific reader? Do you need these times to define who you are? In a word- ‘no’. You define who you are not your things and if you want to share your passions- you can- by talking to people not by a museum of things in your home.

Sasaki refers to Steve Jobs in the book as his inspiration. Jobs has a uniform- he wore the same thing every day because he didn’t want to spend time on choosing an outfit- he had more important things to focus his energies on. Perhaps we do focus too much on what we put on our bodies and how it fits in with current trends- we might all benefit from adopting a uniform so we can channel our passion into something more worthwhile. Whether you agree or not- it certainly makes you think twice about the time you spend on what might be considered frivolous tasks.

For me- de-cluttering has really helped to focus on what is important in life. Experiences with the ones I love and creating memories. Buying something new gives you relatively little pleasure compared to doing something new with the people you care about.

We need things- that’s a given- but not as much as we might believe and this book is a little nudge in the right direction.