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Downsizing Is Really All About Embracing Three Little Magic Words

By Margaret Manning October 05, 2023 Lifestyle

A minimalist lifestyle is relatively easy to achieve through downsizing if all you ever say is the word no. It is so simple to say. No, I won’t buy that new dress or No, I won’t accept that gift, or in my case, No, I won’t buy more bangles.

No, I won’t complicate my existence with more ‘stuff’. In fact, I won’t collect anything at all. Who needs things anyway? I won’t paint the walls in more than one color, I’ll stick to white. I won’t accept that book, I have too much to carry.

Having “too much” suddenly became an obsession on my downsizing journey. As a result, I have suddenly realized that what I have really been doing is simplifying my attitude to things. Not the stuff itself. What gets very challenging is when I want to say yes.

Yes Is a Great Word

Yes is such a positive and energizing concept and that is the shift I am making in my mind as I downsize the possessions in my life! So, rather than consistently saying no to things as I learn to simplify, I am now changing the lens, making a choice and saying YES to everything I love.

Don’t Say No to Things You Love

For me, downsizing is not about denial and austerity. I simply now have learned how to say no to things I don’t love. And what does love in that sense mean? In true Marie Kondo fashion, I keep the things that make me smile and bring me joy! I also keep things that make someone I love smile. It has nothing to do with my self-image or how other people perceive me. There is no desire or need for validation.

The philosophy of choice is grounded in mindful self-awareness and self-value. For me, making a wise and honest choice is at the heart of the simplification process. Beginning to realize that having less is really about appreciating that every ‘thing’ I own reflects something deep and true – for me. If that truth is bright and vibrant and even complicated – that is simplicity.

Making Authentic Choices Is at the Heart of Simplicity

If you choose to keep 15 headbands instead of 3 or 20 pairs of shoes instead of 2 it’s ok. For me, that represents simplicity – as long as the choice is authentic. As I get a little older, I realize that simplification is not about the number of things, it’s about the attitude to things.

100 Thing Challenge

In 2008 there was a movement called the 100 Thing Challenge. A man called Dave Bruno was at a conference where the topic of freedom and the reductionist lifestyle came up. He asked his Facebook followers if minimalist simple living could have a united purpose. It did and turned into a book and many lives were changed.

I am sure many people found joy in simplifying their lives to 100 items. But to be honest, I am beginning to believe that it is not about the number of things or activities or people. Having 100 things or 1000 ‘things’ is not the point. What matters is the lack of attachment, the freedom from obsession with style and need for external validation.

For me, its just a commitment to make choices that validate what is true to me. So next time I am in India, I am absolutely planning to purchase more bangles and bindis.

Just Say Yes

So it is not “Just Say No” – its “Just Say Yes.” Those are the three magic words. Downsizing is a lot more fun if you don’t feel you are denying yourself the things you love. In my opinion, it’s just about being absolutely authentic about what you love and want to keep in your life. Say yes to your beautifully unique and complex self and let your possessions reflect that.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

Do you think that simplification has less to do with the number of things you own than your attitude to them? Have you said no to things you later regretted throwing away? What does your downsizing journey look like?

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Amazing piece – she placed a whole different perspective in my mind. We have just moved, and I did get rid of some things, and now I’m thinking of two in particular, which I did love, but they are gone now. I am going to say yes to all the things I love and, I will continue to downsize, because there are many items I don’t love!


PS I agree that simplification has less to do with the amount of stuff you own, and more to do with your attitude towards your things. If you have a big house, there is not necessarily a need to live in a minimal way, if those things add joy. Maybe better to be very mindful if adding anything new. I think motivation should be considered before buying something new. Like WHY are you buying it?? Sometimes its nice to support young artists by buying their wares even if you don’t “need” it. I like to buy things that are beautiful. This is my latest purchase from a local artist: I am sure she was thrilled to have sold it, and it is giving me pleasure! I like to buy books too as it is supporting someone’s creative endeavor.


I like Marie Kondos advice of thanking an object for its service. This helps in letting go. I’m not really into minimalism but don’t really buy much either, mainly just clothes, shoes, books, plants and occasional artworks. I like this bookcase display with objects and books in my lounge, its not too cramped. It means that when I buy new books, then I have to make decisions, and maybe let old ones go. (Because I don’t want to have another bookcase in the house.)

Last edited 6 months ago by Ingrid
Donna Minkel

I started downsizing a few years ago after my Mom was moving out of a four bedroom home. She had a garage that never had a car in it and the topper was I carted all the things no one wanted to my home. 🤦‍♀️ My Dad’s home was next! Let’s just say I have decluttered, downsized like I’m moving!! I appreciate everything I have, use it or loose it. So so freeing. 🏠 🙌 😍


I am downsizing, slowly, because my husband has a hard time letting go of “things”. It’s been a 34 year battle with him. However, he is slowly understanding that at our age, there are things we just don’t need any longer. He is getting on board with keeping what makes him smile, rather than keeping something because he might need it someday. Someday is here! If we are not using it, time to let go of it.

The Author

Margaret Manning is the founder of Sixty and Me. She is an entrepreneur, author and speaker. Margaret is passionate about building dynamic and engaged communities that improve lives and change perceptions. Margaret can be contacted at

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