Click here to Download The Joy of Less PDF Book by Francine Jay Language English having PDF Size 1.6 MB and No of Pages 297.
Imagine that we’re generals going into battle, or athletes before a big game: to perform at our best, we must mentally prepare ourselves for the challenges ahead. In the following pages, we’ll develop our secret to success: a minimalist mindset. This section is all about attitude. Before we can take control of our stuff, we need to change our relationship with it. We’ll define it, see it for what it is and what it isn’t, and examine its effects on our lives.
The Joy of Less PDF Book by Francine Jay
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The principles we learn will make it easier for us to let stuff go, and help us keep more stuff from coming in the door. Most importantly, we’ll realize that our stuff exists to serve us, not the other way around. Intermixed with our useful things are those that have no practical function, but satisfy a different kind of need: to put it simply, we like to look at them.
Throughout history, we human beings have felt compelled to beautify our surroundings—as evidenced from Paleolithic cave paintings to the pictures hanging over our sofas. Aesthetic appreciation is an important part of our identities, and should not be denied. The brilliant glaze on a beautiful vase, or sleek lines of a modernist chair, may bring a deep and joyful satisfaction to our souls; therefore, such items have every right to be part of our lives.
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The caveat: they must be respected and honored with a prominent place in our homes. If your collection of Murano glass is collecting dust on a shelf—or worse yet, is packed away in the attic—it’s nothing more than colorful clutter. As you’re taking stock of your possessions, don’t give an automatic pass to anything artsy. Just because it appealed to you one summer’s day at a craft fair, doesn’t mean it deserves a lifelong lease on your living room mantel.
On the other hand, if it always brings a smile to your face—or if its visual harmony stirs your soul with a deeper appreciation for the beauty of life—its place in your home is well-deserved. Now if all the stuff in our houses were either beautiful or useful, this would be easy. But as sure as the day is long, you will come across plenty of items that are neither. So where did they come from, and why are they there?
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Nine times out of ten, they represent some kind of memory or emotional attachment: your grandmother’s old china, your dad’s pipe collection, that sarong you bought on your honeymoon. They remind us of people, places, and events that are of particular importance to us. Most often, they enter our homes in the form of gifts, heirlooms, and souvenirs. Again, if the item in question fills your heart with joy, display it with pride and enjoy its presence.
If, on the other hand, you’re holding on to it out of a sense of obligation (like Aunt Edna would turn over in her grave if you gave away her porcelain teacups) or proof of an experience (like nobody would believe you visited the Grand Canyon if you ditched the kitschy snow globe), then some soul-searching is in order. As you walk around your house, have a conversation with your stuff. Ask each item, “What are you and what do you do?”
“How did you come into my life?” “Did I buy you, or were you given to me?” “How often do I use you?” “Would I replace you if you were lost or broken, or would I be relieved to be rid of you?” “Did I ever want you in the first place?” Be honest with your answers—you won’t hurt your stuff’s feelings. Once I worked through these issues, I was finally able to sit back and admire my treasure. The Joy of Less PDF Book
Imagine my surprise when one day I spotted a big black bug, smack dab in the middle of my precious print! I couldn’t fathom how it had gotten under the glass of the professional frame; but there was nothing I could do but let it be. I’m not sure what it did in there, but it added its own artistic smudge and went on its way. Nevertheless, I displayed it proudly—and carefully wrapped it up and carted it with me when I moved.
My new apartment lease prohibited wall hangings, so the print acquired a less glamorous position on the floor. After several more relocations, I became decidedly less enthusiastic about hauling it around and finding places to put it. It spent five years covered in bubble wrap and stuffed in a closet before I finally sold it. From then on, I decided to let the museums handle the art, and I’d go and enjoy it at my leisure!
In fact, finding ways to “enjoy without owning” is one of the keys to having a minimalist home. Case in point: those cappuccino makers gathering dust in our kitchen cupboards. In theory, it seems convenient (and somewhat decadent) to be able to make a steaming cup of frothy java in the comfort of our own homes. In reality, the contraption is a pain to drag out, set up, and clean up when we’re finished; and to top it off, the brew never seems to taste quite as good. The Joy of Less PDF Book
It’s somehow less special when we can have it anytime. After playing barista a few times, we realize it’s more fun to visit the local coffee shop, and soak in the ambience while sipping our drink. In pursuing a minimalist lifestyle, we need to resist the temptation to recreate the outside world within our abodes. Unfortunately, however, trends in home design have been moving in the opposite direction.
Media rooms, fitness centers, and bathroom “spas” are all the rage in the luxury home market. It’s almost as if we’re going to hunker down and never leave our houses. But instead of purchasing, maintaining, and repairing all that equipment, why not have a fun night out at the movies, go to the gym (or take a walk), or treat yourself to a day at the local spa? That way, you can enjoy such activities when it strikes your fancy—without having to store and care for all the stuff.
As we’re happily narrowing down our items, however, some things will stop us in our tracks—and more often than not, they’ll be sentimental or commemorative in nature. Things with memories are just difficult to part with. But don’t worry—we minimalists have ways of dealing with them, too! “Miniaturizing” them, for example, is a tried-and-true strategy. No, I don’t mean turning a shrink ray gun on them (although that would be fun!). The Joy of Less PDF Book
Rather, we simply save a piece of the item instead of the whole thing. The logic: if an item’s purpose is to evoke memories, the same memories can be evoked by a smaller piece. Consider “miniaturizing” items like old wedding gowns, christening outfits, baby quilts, graduation memorabilia, sports uniforms, and letter sweaters. For instance, rather than keep the entire wedding dress, snip off a swatch; display it with a photo, invitation, or dried flower from the bouquet.
Instead of squirreling away your college mortarboard, keep only the tassel. Do the same with collections you inherit: rather than stash all twelve place settings of your grandmother’s china in the attic, keep just a single plate and display it in a place of honor. Alternatively, take snapshots of the items, and then declutter them; the photos preserve the memories, without taking up the space.
They’re also more accessible—and easier to enjoy—than an item tucked away in storage. Finally, we can narrow down our possessions by digitizing them. Again, we don’t need a magician’s wand or a sci-fi laser beam—we have the power of technology. Entire collections of stuff—music, movies, video games, books—can now be reduced to intangible bits and bytes. The Joy of Less PDF Book Download
No longer must we devote shelf space to CDs and their jewel cases; we can simply store our music on our computers and iPods. Digital movies eliminate the need for physical DVDs. Electronic readers can replace entire bookshelves by holding hundreds of tomes on one device (and giving us online access to thousands of others). It’s a wonderful time to be a minimalist!
If you embrace minimalism wholeheartedly, you’ll find yourself continually on the lookout for new ways to narrow down your stuff. Be creative. Regard it as a personal challenge to do more with less, and have fun exploring all the possibilities. You may be surprised at what you can do without! With these points in mind, arrange your stuff into your Inner Circle, Outer Circle, and Deep Storage.
In the office, your Inner Circle should consist of all the supplies you use on a regular basis, and the paperwork with which you’re currently dealing. That means that your pens, pencils, paperclips, envelopes, stamps, notepads, checkbook, and incoming and outgoing mail (among other things) should be within arm’s reach. Practically speaking, if you’re sitting at your desk, you should be able to grab anything out of your Inner Circle without getting up from your chair. The Joy of Less PDF Book Download
Therefore, the furnishings of your Inner Circle will include your desk, as well as any nearby filing cabinets or bookshelves. Reserve these spaces for the things you use most often; most importantly, don’t let them become overrun with less serviceable items. In your Outer Circle belongs paperwork with which you’ve recently dealt, and files you may need to reference in the future. Many of us keep bills, receipts, and statements for a certain period of time before purging them.
If you use such a system, store them in your Outer Circle. You’ll be able to consult them if necessary, and periodically thin them out. This is also the place for catalogs, journals, research articles, and other reference materials you don’t use regularly; store them in slightly harder-to-reach areas, like high and low shelves, or file cabinets across the room. Furthermore, your Outer Circle should contain backup supplies like printer paper, ink cartridges, and extra file folders.
Stash them so that they’re out of the way of daily activity, but easily accessible when needed. Storage space seems like the answer to our problems; how orderly our lives would be if we had a full basement, big attic, or two-car garage to stash all our stuff! Unfortunately, however, this “solution” often backfires: stuff expands to fill the available space, and before we know it, we have more stuff than ever to deal with. The Joy of Less PDF Book Download
My husband and I once lived quite comfortably in a studio apartment, with no storage space other than a utility closet. Then we moved into a three-bedroom house, with an attic, basement, and garage. Guess what happened? Our possessions increased exponentially! During our apartment years, whenever we tired of a piece of furniture, or sports and hobby equipment, we had to get rid of it—we simply had no place to store it.
Once we moved into our house, however, these things wound up in the basement —“just in case” we needed them someday. Well, these “just in cases” piled up and piled up, creating an entirely new clutter problem. Frankly, I think it’s easier to live minimally when you don’t have any storage space! To avoid clutter buildup, keep your storage space as streamlined as your living space. Just because you have a big garage, doesn’t mean you have to fill every square inch of it.
Better to store your car in there (and protect your investment), than a bunch of things you don’t use. What’s more, these areas can serve as additional flex space: they’re ideal places to pursue messy hobbies, and can even be converted into family rooms or bedrooms. Don’t let useless junk prevent you from using them to their potential. With storage spaces, you can Start Over in one of two ways: a little at a time, or the whole enchilada. The Joy of Less PDF Book Free
If you’re feeling ambitious, do it BIG! Schedule an entire weekend for your decluttering, and empty the contents of the basement, attic, or garage (whatever you’ve chosen to work on) into your yard or driveway. It’s easy to overlook things when they’re lurking in dark corners; bring it all out into the light, and expose the clutter for what it is.
Sometimes, simply moving an item out of the house helps you overcome the urge to keep it; suddenly it seems ridiculous to hang on to your old baseball cleats, or the broken bicycle you haven’t ridden in years. For best results, get the whole family involved, and make a party of it! Play music, serve refreshments, and create a fun atmosphere, so it feels more like a game than a chore.
A little healthy competition helps: task each member of the household with purging their own things, and declare the person with the least amount of remaining stuff the decluttering champion. For added incentive, make plans for how you’ll use the “new” space; your teenager will embrace the project with much more enthusiasm if it results in a home theater, or place for his band to practice. The Joy of Less PDF Book Free