JOY in American Decluttering

“I tried that Japanese decluttering technique where you pick up each thing you own and throw it out if it doesn’t give you joy.
So far I’ve thrown out all the dirty dishes and the tax bill…”

Each of two dear friends messaged me to suggest that just maybe I might find this joke relevant.

And I do know from long experience that if Just One Student mentions something, That Very Thing is on the minds of a third of the class.  And if TWO Students mention it, then it’s past time to open discussion:

There’s a reason I call myself an AMERICAN Declutterer!

Because American adults need a Completely American decluttering technique!  We need to pick up each thing and determine How Much Misery will accrue if we throw it out!

And of course I’ve set up a sliding scale for Measuring Misery…

At the far end is the Maximal Misery Level of, “I’ll spend the rest of my life in jail if I throw this out.”

At the near end is the minimal misery level of, “I’ll be dancing for joy forever and a day if I never have to look at this thing again.”

The trouble is that more or less everything we pick up will trigger two points of this spectrum at once.  Like, say, the tax bill.  I could be dancing with joy forever and a day… and spend forever in a jail cell …  if I get never look at it again.

Or maybe I’ll be dancing for joy to get rid of my child’s tattered baseball glove, but he will send me to jail if he finds out it’s gone.

(So, goes my procrastination reverie, we turn our sliding misery scale into a musical scale, and check whether the two notes generate harmonious sympathetic vibrations.  If they don’t…. )

Perhaps you can tell why I don’t take hard and fast rules for decluttering very seriously.  Except one.  That is: Sometimes you just have to do it.  And if you just have to do it….

…if at all possible, turn the discards and the discarding into joy-filled blessings.

  • Invite EVERYONE who has a stake in the stuff to agree that it is necessary to declutter.
  • Build affirming rituals around decluttering.  Include hugs, wine and pizza.
  • Sell as much as you can without driving yourself crazy.
  • Find your discards welcoming homes.
  • Recycle anything you possibly can.
  • Consign to the dump only that which is truly garbage.

Above all, Cultivate Joy.

The featured image is a teapot about as tall as my thumb, crafted entirely of beads.  It is a wedding present and serves as an absolute antithesis to clutter.  I think of Alice in Wonderland every time I look at it.  Going through boxes of clutter can feel very much like a trip through Wonderland.

Author: American Declutterer

I've had three careers, moved among thirteen states, and cleared four houses after loved ones moved on. Sometimes you just have to look at all the stuff and laugh. Then get back to discarding.

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