"Happiness is not having what you want, but wanting what you have."
— Rabbi Hyman Schachtel
This enlightening book by Fumio Sasaki was published in Japan in 2015 and has sold over 150,000 copies. The 36-year-old editor describes how he lived alone in a one-room Tokyo apartment and decided to change things drastically by starting a minimalist life. Like many of his friends and neighbors, he had spent a lot of money on books, CDs, and DVDs until it hit him that there was little contentment in getting more stuff. Our possessions suck up our time, our energy, and our freedom.
Think about all the objects and goodies you have in your home or office. Then take note of the guilt and regret you carry around inside for not making good use of them. Most of us have a room, garage, or storage space jammed with things we took up as hobbies, got tired of, and put away out of sight.
Sasaki spent a year getting rid of things. Most he sold or gave to friends In a very helpful chapter, the author presents 55 tips to help you say goodbye to your stuff: start with the things that are clearly junk such as broken appliances. Then move on to possessions you haven't used for a year. Be sure to differentiate between the goodies you want and those you really need.
Our worth is not measured by all the things we possess. Erase from your mind that consumerist slogan "Whoever ends up with the most toys wins." Instead Sasaki takes to heart the words and examples of minimalists such as Mother Teresa, Mahatma Gandhi, and Greek philosopher Diogenes. We also remembered a quote from Edwin Teale wo said in 1899: "Reduce the complexity of life by eliminating the needless wants of life, and the labors of life reduce themselves."
Sasaki reminds us that our homes aren't museums so they do not have to house collections of our things. Having fewer possessions takes away the stress they cause by soaking up our energy and draining us with the bad habit of comparisons. In place of these negatives, there is the positive influence of Zen Buddhism in Japan; this spiritual tradition models the value of austerity and thrift. Sasaki does a good job mapping the minimalist path and reports on the results. After dispensing with all his excess, he winds up with a total of 150 items including clothes, futon, kitchen bottles, and a toothbrush in his bathroom.