In the event of a disaster, we would probably leave most of our belongings behind. You're not likely — I hope — to care so much about your fancy tea mug, your watercolors, or whatever piece of clothing you own, as to put your life in danger to save them. Today, with the exception of digital information not backed to the cloud and other unique hand-crafted objects, everything we own can be replaced for an item which is exactly the same. After a disaster, great part of our stuff might be gone. If you manage to get out of there with no important injuries, you have, without choosing it, adopted an unsolicited minimalism — you've got rid of stuff without looking for it.
No disaster? You might never get around getting rid of certain stuff. Belongings accumulate and, the more storage space you own, the more you'll accumulate. The thing is: we usually don't care much about most things we own. We tend to only love a small portion of it.
Marie Kondo, author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, was interviewed by Tim Ferriss not long ago. She is known as the Japanese tidying master, who created the KonMarie method. Her motto? "Love everything you own." She believes we need to be thankful of our belongings, thank them for their service while we have them, and, more importantly, before we get rid of them. This way, on top of appreciating the item itself, we remove the feeling of regret for getting rid of it (a feeling that frequently prevents people from letting go of things they don't need anymore).
This, I believe, goes in line with what William Morris said in his 1880 lecture titled The Beauty of Life1. "If you want a golden rule that will fit everybody, this is it: Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful."
As a friend pointed out, in Spain we often say that "moving three times equals a fire2." Will you wait for a disaster to take action? Or will you fake your own so you can get rid of the useless and love what you own?
William Morris was an influential designer, writer, and socialist of the nineteen century. ↩
"Tres mudanzas equivalen a un incendio." ↩