Goodbye Things, Hello Minimalism! Can living with less make you happier?

For Fumio Sasaki, life is all about the basics. Sasaki owns a roll-up mattress, four pairs of socks and three shirts. Sasaki recently wrote the new book Goodbye, Things: The New Japanese Minimalism. He wrote the book after he decided to scorn possessions, it is then that he began feeling happier. Sasaki is a 35 years old, single male, who has never been married. He works as an editor at a publishing company and recently moved from the Nakameguro neighborhood in Tokyo, where he lived for a decade, to a neighborhood called Fudomae in a different part of town. Sasaki moved to the area because the rent is cheaper, but the move practically wiped out his savings. He says that some people might think he is a loser because he is an unmarried adult with not much money. And while the old Sasaki might have been way too embarrassed to admit all this, he can honestly say he doesn't care about things like that anymore. The reason is very simple is that he is perfectly happy just as he is.

The reason for this new feeling of happiness is that Sasaki got rid of most of his material possessions. Minimalism is a lifestyle in which you reduce most of your possessions to the least amount possible. Living with only the bare essentials has not only provided him with the benefits of a tidy room or less cleaning, but it has also led him to a more fundamental shift. Minimalism has given him a chance to think about what it means to be happy. People think that the more they have, the happier they will be. They never know what tomorrow might bring, so they collect and save as much as possible. This essentially means that to live you need a lot of money, so then people gradually start judging other by how much money they have. You convince yourself that you need to make a lot of money, so you don’t miss out on success. And for you to make more money, you need everyone else to spend their money, and the circle goes on and on.

Sasaki estimates that he now owns about 300 items. He says that he used to own about ten times more than he does now. Sasaki says he wasn't happy then. Sasaki would find himself assessing his self-worth on what he did and didn't own, and he wouldn't like how he was measuring up. Sasaki has learned about danshari, which is a Japanese concept of decluttering, and began reading the books of Marie Kondo, whose concept of keeping only the things that spark joy that the concept got its name-dropped in the Gilmore Girls reboot. It took Sasaki about four years to declutter his lifestyle and a fifth year to get to a more minimalist state. In the end, he eventually got rid of his table, his television, and his bed. Minimalism is about having the absolute minimum that you need, not the things you want, but only the things you need. And this self-reflective process is about learning what is your absolute minimum for you. It’s also about what is the absolute minimum you need to eat, for example, or anything that you consume, not just the material things that you buy. Minimalism a principle you can apply to all areas of your life.

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