Decluttering brings happiness… but not always!

Decluttering brings happiness

Not only am I a crazy book nerd, but I’m also an organization maniac. Researching new ways to make my rooms more streamlined and effective is one of my favorite pastimes. Weird, I know. But you won’t be suprised to hear that when Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, came out, I was all over it. And to the surprise and despair of my fiancé, I started decluttering the house top to bottom, going completely nuts!

*N.B.: This is NOT an article about the KonMari Method*

Gretchen Rubin has a saying that I particularly love : “Outer order brings inner calm.” Well to me, that is totally true. A tidy house makes me feel at home. A tidy office triggers my inner hustler. In fact, I am unable to work in a messy environment. Just can’t. Nothing makes me feel inner peace like the sight of a well organized bookshelf or drawer. It makes me feel happy.

So I went through the KonMari decluttering system with much enthusiasm. The concept is simple, you take every item in your house, one by one in your hands and decide if it brings you joy. If it does, keep it. If it doesn’t throw it away (or donate it, recycle it, please don’t just throw everything in the trash!)

I went through every of my possessions, one by one. The worst was my library. I’ve got something like 700 books, so this was not a small task!

KonMari books
My library, during the long decluttering process

But alas, I’ve done it, and my house has never felt that much like home. Every item in the house is my favorite. Everything brings me joy. That is such an awesome feeling! And I keep decluttering the minute something doesn’t feel quite right, like a piece of clothing I can’t stand wearing anymore. To me, the KonMari system was the perfect fit.

“Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or beleive to be beautiful.” -William Morris

I like simplicity in my life. When I have too much stuff, I suffocate. I feel uneasy when my rooms are cluttered and I keep reorganizing my stuff to find the “sweet spot”, the spot where it just feels right. Call me OCD if you will, but I am very picky with my interior design. It has to serve a purpose, everything has to be in the right place, right where I need it, and there shouldn’t be any friction to access my stuff and use it. Yes, again, I am weird. But to me, simplicity, is not equal with empty, white, sterile rooms. I do like stuff.

Last week, my fiancé was joking that we were “collecting collections”. All over the house, you can find my book collection, his video game collection, my stamps (more than 30 years of every Canadian stamps that came out). I have my tarot decks, he has his Legos… We like to collect our favorite stuff and it’s all over the place, often carefully displayed. I am in no way a minimalist, but I like to think of my house as a highly curated haven.

I say that I prone simplicity, because I only like to keep the right stuff, the meaninful stuff, the important stuff. And get rid of the fluff. And that makes me happy.

But as I said, I’m a bit weird, and obsessed, and intense. Not that many people like to read about organization, optimization and ergonomy as a pastime. And some people are actually happier with clutter.

Creatives are especially susceptible to enjoy messy spaces. Too much tidiness and cleanliness can make their minds feel constrained. Innovation is often associated with clutter. As an example, take a look at Einstein’s desk :

Sentimentalism can interfere with decluttering. I, for one, have not a great attachment to stuff, and don’t keep many keepsakes. My fiancé, on the flipside, believes that everything is a keepsake. The dress that he first bought me, a lamp given by his grandmother, his mother’s everyday plateware… He would never had gone through the KonMari method, and does not tend to declutter. He finds comfort being surrounded by all those memories.

I believe that our relationship to stuff is like the two sides of a coin. We can feel burdened by our stuff, as much as we can feel comfort in it. I think what’s most important is to learn to know yourself and your preferences. And create a space that you love, in which you feel at peace and productive, and don’t mind the rest. Simplicity, minimalism, or maximalism, do what works for you.

Now it’s your turn. How do you feel about clutter? Does it makes you happy, productive, at peace? Or is it the opposite? Let me know in the comments below!

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  1. I can’t stand clutter but I have so much to declutter. One of my short-term goals is to declutter my entire house starting with the closet. I want to enjoy more simple life so that I can seriously focus on what truly matters. I’m obsessed with your blog. So much goodness both in organization, planning and personal development. And oh yes, I love books and cats ~ we have 8 cats. lol! Keep up the great work!

    1. I went through the whole decluttering, and it really feels great afterwards. What I would suggest if you want to try it is to break the task down in a simple checklist and schedule your decluttering sprees. Once it’s on the calendar, it’s easy to get it done! I too am a cat lady! 8 cats!!! And thanks for the kind words once again!