Decluttering with Astrid (9)

Each Tuesday Astrid – one of the founders of Flow Magazine – writes about decluttering. This week, she writes about the “Theorette.”

My friends and I often call a self-concocted theory a “theorette.” Theorettes are not based on anything, at times are slimly substantiated, but if you add a little aplomb to them, they sound very nice. And with that in mind, here are some theorettes about buying knick-knacks and curiosities:

* We tend to buy more knick-knacks and curiosities during the winter than summer. I, for instance, spend my summer weekends in the dunes, by the water or in the garden, and have no time or desire whatsoever to visit stores or bric-a-brac shops.

* It’s never as nice once you take it out of its original environment. These days, shops selling knick-knacks and curiosities look more like living rooms than retail outlets. But they don’t resemble anything like the living room at home. I have come home on so many occasions with a treasure that then looks just a tad lost in my room, and – to say the very least –very different than it did in the cool pop-up store, with its fresh apple pie and bearded hipster guy.

* Knick-knacks and curiosities are like fashion. Last year, the vase in the shape of a cactus was all the rage; next year it’ll take the form of a melon. We’ve also swooned to the themes of the deer, the squirrel and the pineapple. And pastel or green are the new white.

* You don’t actually really want to buy it. If you’re sad, or happy, or if the shop assistant is really friendly and nice, or you think you’ve earned it, or you believe that you want it, you’ll succumb to the urge and make that impulse buy. But if you didn’t know you wanted it yesterday, chances are you don’t actually want it today either. And that’s when you should embrace the age-old wise adage: to sleep on it. More often than not, you’ll have forgotten about it tomorrow.

* You should wait at least 30 days before deciding to make a purchase. Tammy Strobel advocates this in her book You Can Buy Happiness, and says that following this piece of advice, “forces me to think about what I want and what I need.”

* Someone once told me, “There are only two reasons why I buy things: either because it is really practical and will make my life easier; or because it is so beautiful that I’m almost moved to tears. If it doesn’t fulfil either of those criteria, then I won’t buy it.” A great motto for a minimalist, I think.

* I also read a similar point of view to the above somewhere. The author wrote: “I only buy something expensive if I see it as an heirloom; if I know that my future grandchildren will also enjoy it.” This lady didn’t waste her money on frivolous things, but invested it every now and then in a beautiful piece of designer furniture.

* A serious theory or, in fact, the result of scientific research into happiness: You are happier from having done something than from having bought something. So go do some exercise, take a long walk, jump on your bike, visit a festival or enjoy a meal out with friends. Or eat a hearty slice of apple pie with a bearded hipster in that cool pop-up store.