Clutter might be good for our mental health
The Future. Marie Kondo-inspired minimalism has become all the rage in recent years, and the practice of purging one’s living space of junk has taken on the tone of an ethical imperative. But the popularity of a new movement — “Cluttercore” — challenges the idea that some material objects can’t make you happier. It may be time to examine our society’s approach to minimalism.
Doesn’t it spark joy?
New trends and surveys support the idea that there’s such a thing as too much minimalism.
- According to advocates of Cluttercore — a movement that’s surged in popularity on YouTube and grabbed 80 million hashtag views on TikTok — a person’s accidental and inimitable clutter is an expression of individuality that can give people a sense of identity.
- A survey of 84 families with about 1,694 meaningful household objects found that while intrinsically valuable things like iPhones or stereos don’t seem to make people feel especially good, seemingly worthless objects — like photographs or a stuffed animal — appreciate in emotional value over time. The idea is that these items remind people of their relationships and past.
- Moreover, the same survey also found that people who didn’t assign emotional value to material objects also tended to have fewer close social connections.
- A catalog of interviews with various writers and artists on decluttering also suggests that people don’t know how much their “worthless” objects matter to them until they’ve thrown them away.
All or nothing?
This isn’t to say that hoarding is good or that all kinds of materialism will make people feel better. But now that Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up (2010) has been thoroughly absorbed by modern culture, it may be time for the pendulum to swing back in the other direction… if even for a little bit.
So the next time you’re thinking of throwing away that useless little trinket, ask yourself: does it spark joy? If it does, there’s no shame in holding onto it.