In these times of economic uncertainty, downsizing may bring an emotional upheaval when trying to get by on fewer things. Fortunately, Francine Jay makes this journey a trip to genuinely cherish in "The Joy of Less". She presents minimalism not as something barren and empty but as freedom and space that makes our lives more enjoyable. And where can this make more of a personal impact than our homes?
This book is in four parts: Philosophy, Streamline, Room by Room and Lifestyle. In Philosophy, she introduces the concept of minimalism and asks the reader to think about our possessions and the value we attach to them: Are we defined by what we own? How much is enough to possess and actually use? And how clutter keeps us back in several ways, not just physically but at the very core of our lifestyle.
In Streamline, she lays out a methodical and clear strategy of de-cluttering our homes. In fact, `Streamline' itself is a handy ten-word mnemonic to guide the process of, well, streamlining! Separating our possessions into Trash, Treasure or Transfer helps to identify what we need to keep and what we can let go - either to the dump or to sell or donate to charity. And everything we keep must make a strong case to remain and have a place it can stay. Which is not on a surface like a table or even the floor, that must remain clear of objects lest it attracts stray items like a magnet. Her concept of storage cuts across three realms: Inner circle, outer circle and deep storage for items used often, sometimes and rarely respectively. `Room by Room' takes the streamline concept and applies it to each room in your home, taking into account the different and unique purpose of them all. She goes into detail how each space can be overhauled into peaceful, calm and de-cluttered oasises.
She closes in her `Lifestyle' section with a homily to expanding minimalism from de-cluttering to saving time from our busy schedules and even to a concept of `minsumerism', a means of reducing our consumption by the Three Rs of reduce, re-use and recycle. This is not an eco-rant on the sly but an instructive exploration of how a life of `enough' can pay dividends on the resources of the planet. She sums this up by comparing an ever-seeking, never-satisfied hunger for material acquisition as akin to a bull in a china shop, when in fact a more considerate approach is more like a butterfly, moving gracefully and lightly without leaving nary a footprint behind!
This is a great book from the writer of the `Miss Minimalist' blog (and NOT a reprint of what appears online). As we all face potentially stark choices of doing more with less in these trying times, we could all embrace `The Joy of Less'!