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Dear Auntie Vicky,

I keep hearing about decluttering and minimalism as new trends. Some of my friends seem to have pretty strong views about it, and insist that embracing these ideas will make me healthier and happier. They keep telling me I have to pare down for a more “curated” lifestyle. I’m not sure where to start. Do you have some tips, and what is your favourite decluttering book?


I’m overwhelmed by stuff.

Dear Overwhelmed,

My favourite decluttering book has not yet been written. It’s very short. The title is You Have Too Much Stuff. Get Rid of Some of It and Don’t Buy a Lot More. In fact, that’s also the entirety of the first – and only — chapter.  To be honest, Overwhelmed, I think a lot of what I’ve read on these topics is nonsense, and the vague notion that getting rid of stuff somehow makes one morally superior to a packrat is silly. And some of the suggestions – oh my!  I should worry about how my clothes feel when I drop them on the floor? Frankly, I don’t believe my sweater cares about my emotional state — and the feeling is mutual. I need advice on how to deal with feelings of loss and guilt when I get rid of stuff? Here’s an idea – how about I imagine I live in a part of the world where standard stuff doesn’t even include clean water to drink or a roof over my head?  It might not help with the guilt, but at least it will give it a legitimate focus.

Like I said, if you have too much stuff, get rid of some of it. And of that doesn’t help, here are some useful tips from The New Yorker. You’re welcome.

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