12 votes

What do you think of the minimalist attitude popularized by people like Marie Kondo? Have you tried to incorporate any parts of that outlook into your life, and if so, how has that gone?

I read the graphic novel version of her book ("The Life-Changing Manga of Tidying Up"), and it was cute and pleasant. The whole consultation side of her business skeeves me out a bit (MLM vibes?), but corporate nonsense aside, I do like organization and minimalism a lot.

Anyways, I'm curious what other people's experiences with the general outlook of minimalism, now that it's been some time since the Netflix series blew up. What do you think?

8 comments

  1. Loire
    Link
    Not quite Marie Condo induced, but, I've been fairly nomadic since about 2013. Four cities, eight or nine different homes in that time. As a result I have reduced my life to to one tub sized...

    Not quite Marie Condo induced, but, I've been fairly nomadic since about 2013. Four cities, eight or nine different homes in that time. As a result I have reduced my life to to one tub sized bucket of clothes, a suitcase and two backpacks worth of stuff. Basically compact enough that I can throw everything I own into the backseat of my truck. Each apartment has been smaller and smaller to the point where I've downgraded to a 550 square foot 1 bedroom (small for Houston, not quote the broom closets you can find in a city like New York). So far I'm very happy with it. My apartment feels cozy, despite the lack of decoration. There are two areas where the minimalist attitude made a huge difference.

    The first is the kitchen: You really don't need every little bloody gadget to cook. I have a good set of knives, a six piece pot and pan set, utensils 3 plates, four bowls and cups. There are very few recipes I cant work around (although admittedly I dont get too extravagant with what I make). I have had all my kitchen equipment since 2009-ish, when you buy quality and take care of it, you don't need to be repurchasing. At no point have I been unhappy with the tools I have at my disposal.

    Clothing is another area where the minimalist attitude comes in handy. I am by no means a slob. I wear (sometimes excessively) nice dress shirts almost every day, I own three (probably too expensive) suits, however with the exception of one of the suits which I bought last year, most of my clothes are over ten years old. A good quality piece of clothing should last you a long time with quality care. If you moisturize and protect your leather it should last nearly a lifetime. A minimalist attitude has encouraged me to care for and repair my clothes, preventing me from blowing my budget on new fashions (except for that new suit which broke the bank). I also care for (emotionally) my clothes than I believe you would if it was just a cheap piece you planned to throw away in a years time.

    Technology wise I could do better. I've gotten a new phone almost every two years now in that same time frame from the Nexus S through to my Pixel 2 XL. However my laptop/computers have been a Dell Inspiron 1720 from 2008-2014 and a Surface Pro 4 from 2014-Now. I haven't purchase a TV in... Ever actually now that I think about it. I havent chased the tablet, or the wireless earbud, or the smart watch fads.

    All in all I feel better for it. My wallet feels better for it. I dont have an incessant need to chase the consumerism dragon. My footprint is ecological probably better for it.

    When you live with a minimalist attitude I think the organization comes naturally. Everything has a place because you aren't flustered with millions of different things. I'm not fighting to put everything in order and that, likely, has it's own positive benefit to my psyche.

    I don't think its necessary to go full Steve Jobs and wear the same black turtleneck every day. The level of minimalism I reach as a single white male might not be exactly the same level a accomplished by a couple with children. My ability to look fashionable with 10 year old shirts is a by product of male fashion being static, so a woman in the business environment might not be able to pull off the same feat. With all that said, I think Westerners, and North Americans especially would be served by practicing a little more minimalism in their lives.

    8 votes
  2. PepperJackson
    Link
    My partner and I enjoyed watching the show together and made some lifestyle changes because of it. In more broad strokes, I became a lot better at getting rid of things I just didn't use anymore....

    My partner and I enjoyed watching the show together and made some lifestyle changes because of it.

    In more broad strokes, I became a lot better at getting rid of things I just didn't use anymore. I tended to make some kind of excuse like "Well, what if I ever do X or Y again?" I don't have a big apartment, and this attitude was making me take up space for things I care about with less important junk. I've donated a lot of clothes that I used to love, but am ready to part ways with. The idea of thanking something for it's service has helped me recognize what no longer is important to me and to make room for the next thing that is. I've also found that at work I have an appreciation in taking the time to have my lab bench clean before I go home each day. (If only that had completely transferred over to keeping my lab notebook orderly each day!)

    More granularly, I am happy to fold my laundry in a way that allows me to see all of my pants at the same time. My house is full of baskets that keep my things more orderly. I've found I spend less time on the weekends doing chores to keep up with the building mess because I have found joy in following through with my cleaning to completion.

    This being said, I'm not freakishly clean or anything, but the core principle of finding joy in having a clean home, work bench, kitchen (mind?) has certainly been good to me!

    5 votes
  3. ThatFanficGuy
    Link
    The only thing I got from (and about) Marie Kondo is the permission to throw stuff away – much like, I'm sure, a lot of people did. It isn't a matter of fashion, or adhering to a style: it's what...

    The only thing I got from (and about) Marie Kondo is the permission to throw stuff away – much like, I'm sure, a lot of people did. It isn't a matter of fashion, or adhering to a style: it's what I am. The idea of "less is better" has been guiding me through life for as long as I remember.

    It's about authentic intent for me. Wearing daily clothes I enjoy, rather than those I have to because I have no other choice. Spending time with people I like, rather than those whom I happen to share lengths of space-time with every day. Doing things that make me want to do them, rather than those I have to do to get by.

    I admit: I'm very lucky to be in a position to practice many of those principles – but it isn't a matter of choice for me, much like it isn't a matter of choice for someone to enjoy milk or lean left politically. It's a part of the core of my being.

    It isn't a matter of having few things, per se, either. It's a matter of having better things, of which can only be fewer. It's about efficiency of pleasure; about having fewer items, or ideas, or actions having the biggest impact towards the goals I hold. I'd rather have one shirt that I'd enjoy wearing than 50 where I have to pick the least-bad one. I'd rather save and buy one good tool than go through a dozen of mediocre-but-cheap ones. I'd rather invest in the future of the experience where I know it's going to pay off, like the chair I sit in daily, or a mat for the cold balcony floor that I'm going to visit multiple times a day, or clean shower that I enjoy almost daily (beyond sanitary showering).

    If I don't have access to better things, I'd rather have worse things than no things, in many situations. Sometimes, I'd rather get by and come up with an alternative to using a worse thing, because using the worse thing would make me feel worse than not using it at all.

    It's why I like what Dieter Rams codified as good design: "Less, but better".

    5 votes
  4. [2]
    kfwyre
    Link
    I read Marie Kondo's book, watched a few episodes of the show, and read Fumio Sasaki's Goodbye, Things. Under the influence of these, I've been slowly decluttering my life over the past couple of...

    I read Marie Kondo's book, watched a few episodes of the show, and read Fumio Sasaki's Goodbye, Things.

    Under the influence of these, I've been slowly decluttering my life over the past couple of months. It's been a stop-and-go process, as it'll keep getting interrupted and then I'll fail to prioritize it and return. I was actually planning on doing a big cleanup this weekend but, surprise surprise, I got sidetracked once again!

    Regardless of my own ability to declutter my schedule and mind to allow for actual IRL decluttering, I'm fully on board with a lot of the ideas of minimalism. I grew up with hoarder-adjacent parents and thus have spent a majority of my life keeping anything and everything that might have utility. I have a really hard time getting rid of something that might conceivably have some use to it, which is nearly everything.

    Furthermore, I also have a hard time getting rid of objects for which I haven't gotten some "designated value" out of. So, if I bought a shirt that I only wore twice because I ended up hating it, I wouldn't get rid of it, because I'd need to "get my money's worth," which was patently absurd, because I didn't like wearing it anyway. In my closet it would sit in a cold stalemate--never getting worn but never getting removed.

    One of the pieces of advice that helped me the most was from Sasaki's book. I don't remember the exact wording, but it was something along the lines of "when you declutter, you get back more than what you give away." If there's a fundamental truth to minimalism, I believe it's this. The random items in my home take up space in my life, my mental map, and my obligations. Because I see each one as having either potential value or unused value, I create the sense that either I owe them, or they owe me. It's unhealthy attachment, and it's weirdly potent for even the most random, inconsequential items. Those unused foreign language practice books that I've had for five years? They're a reminder that I failed to follow through on my Spanish lessons. That mason jar that was a gift? It could hold something--a jelly maybe? What if I decided I wanted to make jelly and needed it?

    My brain can come up with rationalizations for anything, including a reason why every single item in my home is somehow too important to get rid of. This is ridiculous, because they're just things, and the world is full of things, and every store I've ever gone into has tried to get me to buy new things to replace the ones I already have. If I ever need a specific thing I can order it online and have it delivered to my doorstep. I don't need new things. In fact, I don't need most of my old things. What I really need is freedom from all the associations my things make me have.

    I've done a couple of big purges where I've donated a lot of items to charity, and I think it's telling that I can't really name most of the individual items that I donated, despite me filling up boxes and boxes with them. When they're in my home, they take up space in my mind, and, in getting rid of them, they free up that same space, as well as any implicit obligation I felt to them. Marie Kondo's idea of thanking items also helped me with this. It made me realize I was always looking at an item with a deficit on my end. The item had never done enough for me--it could always do more. Now I can feel comfortable getting rid of things that have served their purpose.

    This also helped me with the idea that I can get rid of sentimental items, particularly gifts that have been given to me. I can't remember if it was in Kondo or Sasaki's book, but one of them had a thought experiment where it asked you to remember all the gifts you'd ever gotten a particular individual. Of course, you can't, so they pointed out that the same goes for people who get you gifts. If they come over to your house and see that the trinket they got you five years ago isn't on display, they probably won't even notice! They'll most likely have forgotten they got it for you in the first place!

    More than just the fear of "getting caught," this also helped with the idea that sentimental items aren't indefinite and can be eliminated just like anything else. This was particularly important for me, as I'm a teacher and often get well-meaning, sentiment-laden gifts from students. It's not that I don't appreciate them but that I don't need yet another teacher-themed mug for my already too-big collection. Nevertheless, I always felt guilty and kept these not because of the item but because of its associations.

    Kondo and Sasaki effectively gave me permission to get rid of these, which removed a whole lot of cruft from my life. This dovetailed nicely with another piece of advice (I believe from Sasaki) which was to take a picture of anything with sentimental value, and then get rid of the physical item. Because it was always about the associations and never about the item itself, a picture still lets me revisit my memories of the student without the mug taking up space in my cabinet.

    I do hate that when I talk about decluttering it sounds as if I've joined a cult. I've brought it up with people before and been met with strange stares. It's hard to convey how minimalism has better made me aware of my own relationship with stuff without things getting uncomfortable, and I think that mostly stems from my relationship with stuff being fundamentally uncomfortable in the first place. For someone who doesn't have that same dysfunction, hearing me talk of the transformative power of, say, thanking items sounds bizarre. Despite it being powerful for me, I can definitely understand how absurd it looks from the outside. So you're telling me this water bottle... sparks... joy??? Yup. That's exactly what I'm saying! Doesn't yours?!

    1 vote
    1. vivaria
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      I relate a lot to this. My mum's gotten much better in recent years, but growing up we struggled with money, and it caused a whole lotta "sunk cost fallacy" thinking in our family. It wasn't...

      I grew up with hoarder-adjacent parents and thus have spent a majority of my life keeping anything and everything that might have utility. I have a really hard time getting rid of something that might conceivably have some use to it, which is nearly everything.

      I relate a lot to this. My mum's gotten much better in recent years, but growing up we struggled with money, and it caused a whole lotta "sunk cost fallacy" thinking in our family. It wasn't uncommon to hear "How could you want to get rid of this? Do you know how much this cost us when we first bought it?" We felt a lingering pressure to squeeze as much value out of the things we did buy, or else we'd have wasted what little funds we had. Getting rid of once valuable things seemed like an admission of failure. To get rid of something required us to admit that we made a bad purchase, as though we bought something that we didn't need. To avoid that guilt, we convinced ourselves that we needed everything.

      Like you, my past couple of years has been an exercise in unlearning that survival-mode thinking. I've had to teach myself that it's okay to get rid of things, because it's okay to have made a "bad" purchase in the first place. It isn't some personal failure to not be a ruthlessly efficient purchasing machine, because systems under capitalism are designed to manipulate us into making "bad" purchases. It's me, a single human, against a dense and confusing network of subterfuge. There are entire industries built around how best to convince us to part with our own money, ensuring that the house always wins. Of course I'm going to make decisions that are suboptimal! Especially as my tastes and interests and preferences change. I'm only human.

      Minimalism balanced the scale for me. I was happy to get an alternate perspective to shine a light on the benefits of getting rid of things, which you've covered a lot of here. Before it was pure negative!

      2 votes
  5. krg
    Link
    Maybe once a month act as if you're going to move. The stuff you don't want to pack is stuff that can be removed from your life. I follow the minimalist lifestyle somewhat if only inadvertently. I...

    Maybe once a month act as if you're going to move. The stuff you don't want to pack is stuff that can be removed from your life. I follow the minimalist lifestyle somewhat if only inadvertently. I don't have an abundance because I can't really afford an abundance, so I make do with what I have. For example, I own three chairs. One is a terrible desk chair, the other is a lounge chair from Ikea, and the last is a fold-up camp chair adorned in RealTree® camo. I've only really had two guests at a time, max, so it works for me.

    The only thing that piles up is mail...

    1 vote
  6. Arshan
    Link
    I have never read or seen any of Marie Kondos books or show, but I do really enjoy minimalism. Usually twice a year, I go through all my stuff and toss whatever I don't use. It feels great to get...

    I have never read or seen any of Marie Kondos books or show, but I do really enjoy minimalism. Usually twice a year, I go through all my stuff and toss whatever I don't use. It feels great to get rid of stuff that I never use, its like dropping 10 pounds. I highly recommend it as a form of seasonal cleaning.

    1 vote
  7. jprich
    Link
    Books. Almost all my books are digital now with the exception of frequently used reference books (clicking next or typing in a page number isnt the same as grabbing a tab and turning right to the...

    Books.

    Almost all my books are digital now with the exception of frequently used reference books (clicking next or typing in a page number isnt the same as grabbing a tab and turning right to the page) or schooling (i write notes on the pages).

    Its so nice to have one SSD with my entire library on it that I can slip in my pocket and go.