Spark joy; it all began with those two words.
Following a fortuitous discovery of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, a book written by Japanese organising consultant and author Marie Kondo, my brain has done a complete 180 on the notion of materialism.
Once I had spent a rainy Sunday absorbed in Kondo's words – devouring the 256-page book in a matter of hours while eating my bodyweight in Oreos and rolling around like a sloth on the sofa – I began questioning every inanimate object that engulfed my one-bedroom apartment. Uh-oh.
From the birthday cards I hoarded since February to wondering what positive use three glass cake domes are contributing to my earthly existence when I don't even eat cake – not one of my possessions eschewed the microscope after my unexpected epiphany.
A home that appeared relatively neat to the naked eye suddenly looked like a bombsite once I took my rose-tinted (and extremely blurry) specs off.
The aim of the game is to hold up an item, take a moment and ask yourself: 'Does this spark joy?'
It's a motto I've nicked from Kondo's book and it works wonders. Since that fateful Sunday in September, I spent three weeks clearing out things I don't use, wear, or bring any enjoyment to my life.
I concentrated on one area of the house per weekend and donated an embarrassing amount of black bin-liners to my local RSPCA charity shop. I'm now on first name terms with the girl behind the counter. And her pet Labradoodle.
As someone who has struggled to keep my space immaculately in order since childhood – watching the mess creep back in just one week after a big spring clean – my flat has maintained its current state of show-house tidiness since the last week of September. I no longer have to stash away clothes like a lunatic as if I'm hiding a pile of dead bodies when a friend comes round for a pizza. Phew.
The trick is to find a home for everything; fold your clothes using the Konmari method and be nothing but ruthless with objects you do not need or make you happy. Now, I dread receiving presents in fear I won't be able to find a place for them, and am trying my luck at being a conscious consumer.
Before purchasing an otherwise needless item – such as clothing – I now think about it for a few days, ask myself whether I'd buy it if it was three times more expensive and if it really goes with the rest of my wardrobe. I usually forget about said item and lo and behold, the show goes on.
As November approached, I encountered another two words; Black Friday.
The feeling of trepidation began to flow through my veins; will I be able to uphold this stolid approach to spending when I can buy that Asos coat I've been eyeing for half price? Gulp.
After we've had our noses rubbed in the Kardashians and their infinite consumption of weight-loss tea to multi-million dollar mansions that swallow up a gratuitous amount of land – we're fed to believe that possessions mean everything.
Prior to Kim Kardashian's Paris burglary, did her multiple outfit changes per day and extortionately priced jewellery really bring her happiness? Perhaps this is something she has been contemplating since snubbing the limelight seven weeks ago.
What I have learnt over the past few weeks is that owning less actually brings happiness. Having a little amount of stuff allows the mind to focus on what really matters; from personal goals to activities and relationships. Decluttering your physical surroundings leads the mind to follow suit; all those 'things' are taking up mental energy.
So before you wake up at 3am and queue up to get that 42 inch TV this Friday, analyse whether it will 'spark joy.' If it does, then go and get it, and if it doesn't – and you're just getting it because it's discounted – perhaps examine your relationship with consumerism.
Even better, try reading Marie Kondo's book and see if it changes your life for the better.