Happiness Goal

I make a lot of suggestions and give a lot of advice on deciding what may or may not be clutter in your homes. However, ultimately your decisions are your own because no one knows better than you as to what you consider clutter in your home and what you don’t. No matter what the choices, everyone’s ultimate goal when it comes to minimising their possessions is, and should, be their happiness.

What you are happy to get rid of and what level of minimising is entirely up to you. Quite often these goal post move as time wears on, and that is fabulous, but the end result should be what you are happy with, or a happy medium between you and the other occupants of your dwelling place.

Sometimes the decision making may be a cause of discontentment, procrastination or soul searching. However don’t let that deter you, because in the end, it is a rare occasion when seeing the stuff go out the door causes anything other than delight. Anything that is too difficult to decide on can be put aside while more decluttering goes on around it. With decluttering experience comes decluttering ruthlessness so the decision making does get easier.

I have gotten happier and happier with my surroundings as more and more goes out the door. I do a little happy dance with every package I send off to an eBay auction winner. Driving a car load of donations to the thrift shop is also a joyful experience for me and it ultimately benefits others. And things offered to and accepted by my children pleases me because we both benefit from the exchange. Of course they are always told they are under no obligation to accept nor keep the items, should they, at some point, no longer want them.

So be happy with the process of decluttering, delight in your progress, and be happy with the end result.

It matters not how fast I go, I hurry faster when I’m slow

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Continue reading with these posts:

  • Dithering? ~ By Peggy W I have dithered many times in my decluttering journey, unable to make a decision about my stuff.  Two of the “ditherees” left my house this morning because I needed soft fillers to […]
  • What is right for you? I often get comments from people contradicting my suggestions regarding what to declutter and pleading their case on why they keep certain items or collections of things. Avid readers […]
  • Love it or heave it (Revisited) As you may have guessed, due to the lack of them, I struggle to come up with new posts these days, mostly because I declutter much less now, therefore the inspiration for posts isn't […]
About Colleen Madsen

Colleen is the founder of 365 Less Things and lives in Newcastle, Australia.


  1. Colleen, I have found that the less I have not only makes me happier but it also reduces a lot of stress. It’s great. Hope your vacation is going well.

  2. I so agree, living lighter reduces so much stress. And yes the goal post has moved many, many times. But I am happy with the direction things are headed.

    • I agree with you Moni! I feel lighter, the house feels easier to care for and to live in. Even house chores (if I die and have to be punished I am sure I am to be condemned to eternally doing house chores… 😀 😀 :D) seem easier…

  3. I have been a follower of this site for over a year now. I’m very happy with all the
    decluttering missions. This is the best decluttering and simplifying blog on the web.

  4. I felt fantastic when we dropped of an entire truck load to our favorite cat rescue. It was great. I really enjoy decluttering and I know when I get out the Christmas décor, I’ll probably get rid of a bunch more – although that was the very first declutter project when I first found this site and I even sent Colleen pictures of it. 🙂

  5. Hi Colleen! If someone had told me, when I first arrived here, in this blog, that I would have decluttered the amount of stuff that I did, and that I would still be far from satisfied with the results, and planing more decluttering, I would call them crazy. Well, here I am, aiming for more. The questions I keep asking myself are the same: Do I need this item? Am I using this item? Why am I keeping it? And if I am not satisfied with the answers, I declutter the item. My bedroom declutter is on the way. And I might be satisfied with the results, but I am very happy.

    • Andreia, I can’t believe how much has left our house, either, and yet more could go and we’d still have too much.

    • Andreia – same story here! Recently I was asked to estimate how much stuff we’d gotten rid of from our house, I took a stab in the dark and said 3/4, my hubby chimed in and said he felt it was like 7/8 and reminded me that the garage floor used to be covered and stacked up, the ceiling storage used to be full, the hall cupboard was an avalanche zone, we used to have three sets of drawers in our bedroom that we no longer have, every bed had every possible spot underneath taken up with stuff etc etc. So I’ve decided to go along with 7/8.

      The great thing is that I know we can get it down further. I’m not so interested in the final figure but reaching the time when I can walk into every room and know that apart from maintenance there isn’t anything left to declutter. When we shift next, to say, wow that was quick and easy.

  6. I just re-read your paragraph about how happy you are when you send something off that you have sold on ebay or drop things off at the thrift store .. those are my sentiments exactly. I had a double dose of it today as I mailed a package and then dropped off a good load of items at Goodwill, and tomorrow another package will be mailed. It seems so strange to feel even more joy at disposing of an item which apparently made me happy when I acquired it. It is such a reversal of the normal expectation of consumption.

  7. I love the positiveness of this post!!! I can feel your joy and happiness.

    Reminds me that it is not about deprivation; it’s about gifting to others and freedom from clutter.

  8. I heart this post 🙂

    It is the perfect summary of everything you write about.

  9. This is lovely and freeing as a reminder to keep going and accepting the changes as slow or as fast as I can make them. It is true, my eye for clutter is constantly seeing new things to downsize and ways to lighten up what stays. Things I thought I’d keep always no longer feel worth hanging on to. Other things I took for granted as part of the decor have been easy to pass along to others. A month ago, we went on a little trip, and I intended to see how little we needed to bring and how easy it was to keep the place clean. It was even more eye opening than I had imagined it would be. I even loved how little art there was on the walls and how the art that was there was even soft and airy-a look I’m going for. As we walked in the door, so good to be home was a first thought, quickly followed by the shock of how cluttered some of our walls were! I knew they were, but after the breezy airy, light-filled, vacation, I felt smothered by our love-filled walls! With my husband’s blessing, I removed all the meaningless things from the walls and the rest were switched out to white or light colored frames and I printed new family pictures of beautiful places outdoors to bring in the light, sunshine and colors of the sea. I took down the dusty fake plants, and removed one chair. Most of the changes were instant, but it took me all month to slowly swap out the picture frames and find the pictures to print. I imagine that as time goes by, I will edit it down even more. But right now, it is like a breath of fresh air having less! Thank you for the continual encouragement and reminders! It does help me very much, and I’ve realized by now I will be working on this for life, and I’m ok with that!

  10. Attitude makes a big difference. We can truly bless others through sharing the things we do not need. Maybe the burden we feel when we have too much helps us to realize that it is just too much. We just don’t need that much stuff to be happy and we can feel the joy in blessing others. I agree completely that each us of needs to find out own balance. Many times when people spout about having only 2 pair of pants or 5 shirts, I believe that they are swinging way over to one side of the pendulum in their efforts to find their own balance. Several who started out saying those things stopped blogging about it when they realized that it just doesn’t work long term. It is good to try things whether it be a few clothes or very little furniture or whatever you need to do to find the right balance for you. Eventually, you will find the place that feels right.

    • Spendwisemom – I agree that we can be happy with not a lot. I personally did Project 333 last year, I agreed to it with more out-clauses and conditions than you could imagine and only agreed to do it for a month initially. 18 months on I am still on it and am very happy I agreed to give it a go. Yes I raved about the concept, yes I still recommended it once I finished my 3 months but lately unless the topic arises I don’t mention it. The reason is that it is my normal these days and I don’t really think about it. Once upon a time I thought having a wardrobe chock full and 2-3 sets of drawers in the room was normal. I don’t religiously count my items of clothes but I have a fairly accurate idea of what my wardrobe should look like to stay comfortably within my new normal. I have gotten below 10 items during a time when it was the end of a long hot summer and I’d lost a considerable amount of weight, I didn’t want to buy more clothing when any day the weather could change. I went above the 33 at the start of winter as I needed clothes rather desperately by that stage and was given a voucher to a store as a gift and meantime a bid on a trademe auction of a bulk lot of merino clothing came thru. Without thinking about it, items started to be weeded out. My favourites were quickly established and ones that kept being overlooked were donated. Yes, I only have two pairs of jeans and that’s sufficient for me and yes I wear jeans almost daily. I launder daily, but I’m one of those people who’d rather do laundry than cook/bake. I could have bought more jeans but I didn’t know when I would reach goal weight or if I’d want to carry on further. I’m quite happy for most of my clothes to only last one or two seasons. I buy from shops such as glassons, valley girls and temt which are cheaper but fashionable, if they aren’t the best of quality, I accept that. I spent a number of years being unhappy with my weight and so I’m enjoying a more youthful look. I buy something I absolutely love and then wear it to death, no more saving things for good anymore.
      So I do feel that what some would consider my wardrobe not realistic but it works nicely for me and yes after 18 months I would consider myself bordering on the long term. I can honestly say even when I got down to under 10 items, I never had nothing to wear and I can honestly say that it is sooooo much easier to figure what to wear each day or to dress up or what goes with what. Yes I’m fortunate that I work in an industrial area so don’t need a corporate wardrobe, but I do know people who live on project 333 or similar challenges who work in corporate jobs and manage quite well, they also say it is easier with fewer clothes than an extensive wardrobe.
      I met an elderly lady recently, and she had a number of philosophies on possessions based on her long life as a military wife. She wasn’t into ‘new-fangled ideas’ but she said that she always believed that if all your clothes didn’t fit in your suitcase (I assume she had a decent size one, not the mini kind on wheels that I use for weekends away) then you had too many clothes. She said she shifted more times than she cared to remember and often with very little notice, so it made sense to live that way. She said that her parents and grandparents never had lots of clothes and they got by fine, no one would have had so much money tied up in clothing hanging in the wardrobe during the Depression.

      • Moni, this is the way I am too. I can’t see having a bunch of clothes I don’t need. If I’m not wearing it then I don’t need it. I’ve been this way pretty much all my life. Even more so once I became an adult and could choose my own clothes and amount of them.

  11. One really nice side-effect of having a decluttering mindset is that when something is broken or lost, I usually respond with more relief than upset. I lent some things to a friend who never returned them and has now moved, which would annoy me, but I didn’t need those things and now they’re peacefully out of my life. I have gained happiness and an additional sense of peace in my space from having fewer things, and that is really nice. Always more things to deal with though!

    • That’s putting a nice spin on it! I feel a little bit this way when my kids break something that I have to throw out. I used to get annoyed, especially if they were messing and around and it was avoidable, but if it is truly an accident, I don’t much care anymore.