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Wednesday, November 11, 2015, 11:04

A simple way to treat the epidemic of buying things

By Yang Yang
A simple way to treat the epidemic of buying things
A picture of Yamashita Hiteko's living room where she uses the danshari concept. (Photos Provided to China Daily)

As the annual shopping carnival takes place on Singles Day, many Chinese worry about a growing problem. It is the tendency to buy too many things because of the discounts and soon there is very little space to store them at home.

China, due to rapid economic growth, is entering a period that Japan entered 20 years ago.

Economic progress increases people's desires and they want to buy more things.

"Often, it is not because they need them. They just buy things to fill the hollow in their hearts, and accumulating things indicates the heavy burden they carry in their minds," Yamashita Hiteko, a Japanese self-help writer, told her audience at a lecture in Beijing's 798 art district on Sunday.

"Instead of a place for relaxation, the home becomes a place with too many useless things that people do not want to throw away. It then turns into a garbage dump. Such a situation affects one's psychological state," she says.

"So the first thing we need to do is to throw away some stuff," she says.

Hiteko is famous for her concept of danshari, which is summarized and developed from making the house neat and from yoga. It is practice of junking unnecessary things and separating oneself from the drive to have and own things.

By cleaning up, one gets rid of both physical and mental junk.

Her book Danshari published in China in 2013 has become very popular.

A simple way to treat the epidemic of buying things
Yamashita Hiteko and her book D anshari . She is famous for the concept of danshari , which is summarized and developed from making the house neat.

An increasing number of Chinese have started reviewing their surroundings at home and their mental situation.

A new type of house service is being offered in China. Specialists visit a client's house to provide advice on making the space neat, to find out what things clients like or dislike, to tell them to throw away things they don't like and to free people from superfluous goods.

A woman who was present at Sunday's lecture shares her experience of practicing danshari.

She says that she suffered from depression and used to eat a lot, but was unwilling to visit a psychoanalyst.

After reading Danshari , she cleaned her house, ate less and lost 5 kilograms.

"Now whenever I feel unhappy, I clean my house and feel better," she says.

Hiteko says: "The essence of danshari is that you need to focus on yourself, right here, right now.

"Like Japan, China has also become a place of plenty from one which had a chronic shortage of goods. Nowadays, the problem of cleaning the house is not only putting things in place, but trying to accommodate too many things in a limited space. So, first, we need to throwaway unnecessary things that you don't like."

The book offers a practical and detailed guide on the concept. At the end of each chapter, Hiteko gives examples.

In one, she talks of a woman who reviews her life by cleaning up her house and then makes big decisions that she didn't make years ago, such as getting a divorce.

"First you need to ask yourself whether you like certain things or not. Some people may say I keep them because I might use them some day, or they are full of memories," she says.

"But you should review the relationship between you and the goods. It's you not the goods that you should focus on. You should focus on whether you can use them now, rather than living in the past or the future," Hiteko says.

Another important idea is that, through disposing of superfluous things, people learn about themselves, and learn how to make decisions about things like in a job, love and marriage.

"It takes time. I have been practicing the concept for 40 years and have failed many times. But don't worry, keep doing it," she says.

Despite the core idea of "refusal, disposal and separation", Hiteko says she does not encourage people to make their lives less colorful or less interesting.

"I am not advocating that you curb desire, no," she says. "You can buy whatever you want, but remember to dispose it and not to keep it all at home."

As for the advice she has for young Chinese, she jokes: "Go ahead and regret!"

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