Is simplifying your life one of your priorities for this year? Are you looking to let go of the clutter once and for all?
Then Danshari might be for you.
The decluttering concept was coined in Japan a few years ago and the whole country is obsessed with it.
Let’s look at what Danshari is and whether it’s actually worth your time.
Where does it come from?
The term appeared a few years ago in Japan seemingly out of nowhere but the teachings that the concept is based on aren’t new. Danshari is an offspring of the minimalist movement that takes its roots in century old zen which comes from Indian Mahayana that originates in China during the Tang Dynasty.
The Zen philosophy promotes simplicity in order to experience a more deliberate, mindful life and maintain focus on what truly matters. The minimalist approach is also linked to the concept of non-attachment (to a material or emotional outcome) which is, according to Zen buddhists, one of the main cause for suffering.
The philosophy was brought to the West in part by Daisetsu Teitaro Suzuki, a Japanese author and professor, who travelled the world to spread the word about Zen.
What does Danshari mean?
Dan: 断 = REFUSE
Refusing is the first of this 3-step process. What do we refuse exactly?
To let more things into our home. To let our possessions rule our life and to accumulate out of habit rather than out of necessity.
This first step is critical to the success of your Danshari journey because it prevents the clutter from creeping up into your life over and over again. And why go through the trouble of sorting and decluttering if you are back to square one in a year?
First, we ditch the consumerist mindset.
Sounds easy? It’s not.
And here are two reasons why you can’t get away from accumulating so easily:
- Shopping is addictive: it’s no secret by now that shopping is highly addictive and that’s the reasons why we keep coming back for more.
- We live in a consumerist society: your colleagues, friends, family and everyone around us over consume. It’s the norm – what’s strange is actually NOT to consume.
- I own therefore I am: our things give us status.
So how do we REFUSE then?
- Reflect on your shopping habits – take a hard look at how, what and how often you consume. What are your shopping habits? Do you buy things just because they’re pretty or because you actually need them? The best way to reflect is to journal or talk about it out loud with your partner, friend or anyone close to you. There is something about writing and voicing something that makes it clearer.
- Understand the psychology behind shopping: only once you are aware of the reasons why you shop (to relieve stress, fill a void, etc.) can you start to develop a more mindful approach to the way you consume.
- Find your why: understanding why you want to stop accumulating is key to be able to stick with it long term. Whenever you feel like going back to your old habits, remind yourself of your ‘WHY’.
- Consider a shopping hiatus: try to commit to not buy anything (apart from food of course) for a certain amount of time. More and more people stop shopping for weeks or months to help them heal from unhealthy shopping habits.
- Take baby steps: Rome wasn’t built in a day and your consumerist habits won’t disappear in a day either. But if you are dedicated to developing a more mindful approach to consuming, over time you will be able to control your urge to shop.
Sha: 捨 = DISPOSE
The second step, DISPOSING, gets you into action mode. That’s where you get to sort, assess and dispose of your clutter.
That’s my favorite part of the process! If you are in the right mindset, ready to let go and simplify, it can be a super energizing and freeing experience. One where you slowly but surely start to realize how much your stuff had been weighing you down.
By the time you have decluttered your entire home, you will be surprised by how much time and mental space you have freed up.
One word of caution though: don’t go wandering around your house decluttering random items!
Because however fun it may be, decluttering is hard. It takes time and dedication. And most importantly it takes planning.
Knowing where you will start and end, what you want each room to look and feel like, how you will tackle the clutter and how much you are willing to let go of.
When I started decluttering, I didn’t have a plan. I decluttered here and there without ever making real progress. I felt frustrated and almost quit as a result.
So how do we prevent this from happening?
- Get organized
- Cut the tasks into smaller chunks
- Work with a schedule
- Create an easy-to-follow, yet solid and actionable plan
Ri: 離 = SEPARATE
The third and final step of this process is SEPARATION.
In other words, separating / detaching yourself from your material possessions. Based on the Buddhist principle of non-attachment, separating yourself from a desire for material possessions is a key factor in reducing stress.
Here are a few tips to do so:
- Think about what really matters to you: family? health? travelling? learning? spending time in the nature or STUFF?
- Remember that the more you own, the less time and mental space you have for what really matters – letting go is freeing!
- Appreciate what you own but don’t attach yourself to it – if it ever breaks or disappears, it’s only material – just move on.
Should you Danshari your home then?
YES and NO (this reflects my opinion only!).
YES, you should definitely use the Danshari process if you:
- Are committed to simplifying your life
- Know your WHY: what are your reasons to declutter?
- Are fully committed to making profound changes to your shopping habits
- Understand that using a plan and schedule is key to decluttering your home successfully
I recommend NOT to go into this process half-hearted, it will be a waste of your time and you might end up more confused and frustrated than when you first started.
That being said, decluttering can be totally life-changing and freeing if you are committed to making long lasting changes.
Are you ready to take action?