Book summary: Goodbye Things by Fumio Sasaki

Get the book on Amazon

About the book

If we can say goodbye to some of our things, we can fill the space with what gives our life real meaning. Fumio Sasaki shares his story – and his lessons learned – in this excellent modern ode to Zen minimalism.

“We are more interested in making others believe we are happy than in trying to be happy ourselves”.—FRANÇOIS DE LA ROCHEFOUCAULD

Why minimalism?

  • The objective of minimalism isn’t to reduce, it’s to eliminate distractions so you can focus on the things that are truly important
  • Once you’ve gone ahead and minimized, it’s time to find out what those important things are and create your own unique story.
  • Finding time to relax is the ultimate luxury. Having fewer things and living a simpler life helps with this.
  • Minimalism naturally narrows down your choices so you can arrive at quick decisions.

“Having parted with most of my belongings, one thing that I can honestly say now is that there isn’t really a need to accomplish something or build an ambitious future. We can begin to be content with ourselves and feel plenty of happiness by simply going about our daily lives, appreciating the present moment”.

  • Minimalists have no possessions that they are scared to lose. That gives them the optimism and courage to take risks.

“Because I don’t own very much, I have the luxury of time. I can enjoy the simplicity of my daily life without feeling stressed or overwhelmed”.

  • Flow – or the intense level of concentration that brings us more happiness and purpose – is rarely possible until we’ve reduced all distractions and unnecessary things.

“If our environment can only affect our happiness by 10 percent, why spend time accumulating a lot of material possessions? Why not live in a minimalist apartment and free yourself to change your actions, which are 40 percent of your happiness, by saying goodbye to your things?”


  • The ideal minimalist: someone who can give a rundown of every item they own.
  • “Ugh, you still own so much. How lame!” is the same mindset as “Ugh, you still don’t have this. How lame!”
  • Minimalism is built around the idea that there’s nothing that you’re lacking.
  • Know what you need – and what you don’t need. Find your own minimalism.
  • Know what you want for the sake of appearance, and build the courage to cut down on that. One example: owning books that make you look smart when people visit your house.

“Why do we own so many things when we don’t need them? What is their purpose? I think the answer is quite clear: We’re desperate to convey our own worth, our own value to others. We use objects to tell people just how valuable we are”.

  • Let go of the past and your old things and memories. If you want to keep moving forwards, leave only the items you need.
  • Minimalism is not a competition. Don’t boast about how little you have. Don’t judge someone who has more than you.
  • It’s the memories that we can recall without the aid of objects that are truly important. Getting rid of extra possessions helps us with this.
  • Your experiences can never be taken from you. Immerse yourself in life, not belongings, and you’ll be rich.

Other tactics to help you on your minimalist journey

One common minimalist tactic: gathering all the things you’re thinking of getting rid of and placing them in a box or in the closet. Tuck the items away in a place where they do not usually belong. See which ones you actually need to take out the box.

Share your minimalist journey online to help keep your motivation up, for instance by posting photos of your apartment.

Ideas to live by

Use the “one in, one out” rule for items of the same type.

Consider having your personal uniform: “there’s a stylishness to wearing the same clothes that are perfect for us”.

Think about these qualities in the things you buy:

  1. the item has a minimalist type of shape, and is easy to clean;
  2. its color isn’t too loud;
  3. I’ll be able to use it for a long time;
  4. it has a simple structure;
  5. it’s lightweight and compact; and
  6. it has multiple uses.

You’re the only one who’s worried about your face. —ICHIRO KISHIMI AND FUMITAKE KOGA, KIRAWARERU YUKI (COURAGE TO BE DISLIKED)

“What’s important in my life? It’s the person who’s sitting or standing in front of me right now”.


Work out which items you don’t really need

If something were really important, you would have desperately looked for it.

The things we really need will always find their way back to us.

If you need to use something only once a year, it might be more practical to just rent it. If you were to lose this, would you buy it again at full price? If the answer is yes, that item is something that you truly love. It’s a necessity for you. If you had to move next week, which items would you take with you?

Tidy house, tidy mind

You don’t need a strong will to tidy up regularly and maintain a clean home. All you need to do is to make household cleanup a daily habit. Then you’ll be able to clean up without a second thought.

“Each morning, I vacuum my apartment before heading off to work. I tidy up the bathroom whenever I take a shower, and as a result it’s always squeaky-clean and shining. I do the dishes as soon as I finish eating. I do the laundry before my dirty clothes form a huge pile and hang dry the washed items on my balcony, where I also wipe everything down, including my neighbor’s balcony”.

Work out your minimum living costs

Add up rent, groceries, utilities, communication charges, and so on to calculate the minimum amount of money you need to live off.

If you’re earning your minimum living costs, you can do ok. Everything else is extra.

When you take up minimalism, you stop comparing yourself to others. You let go of the pride that makes you think you need much more than your living costs, or think thoughts like “I’m not someone who should be doing this kind of work!” or “I don’t want people to think I’m poor,”

There are plenty of jobs out there that’ll pay 100,000 yen a month. And some of them can give you much more time than you had in your higher-paying job, which is the real luxury.

“I don’t even have to worry about retirement anymore. I’m optimistic, knowing that all I have to do is earn 100,000 yen each month. Many jobs are available today where all you need is an online connection, so you can even live someplace abroad where minimum living costs are even lower”.

There’s no point in putting up with a terrible job or working yourself to death just to maintain your standard of living. By having less and lowering your minimum living costs, you can go anywhere you want.

Treasure the time that you gain by owning less and living more simply

“Even pleasant people will turn negative if they’re too busy and don’t have the luxury of time on their hands”.

Whether we’re rich or poor, we all get twenty-four hours in a day.

“Take a breather at a neighborhood coffee shop. Stop typing away at your computer and give yourself a moment to take a deep breath. Happiness is actually all around us. We just need time to find it. By reducing the number of material possessions you have, you can take back the time that your belongings have been stealing from you. That time is precious. It’s a shame to waste away what is allocated equally to all of us—only twenty-four hours a day—on material belongings. Instead, devote that time to the pursuit of everyday happiness”.

Have more relaxed moments

Certain areas in our brain are active only when we’re daydreaming or when our minds are wandering. These moments are said to be used for self-awareness, orientation, and memory—or to put it simply, to think about ourselves.

Whether we’re sitting at a beach and listening to the sounds of the waves or gazing into a campfire, a relaxed moment is not without meaning; it’s an important and necessary time for reflection.

Closing thoughts

“Have less, be free, and you’ll be able to go anywhere, whenever you want. You won’t be worried about how others see you so you’ll be able to take on new challenges without being afraid of failure. Our minimum living costs will decrease when we part with our possessions, which means we’ll have more freedom to choose our jobs”.

  Enjoy this article?

Similar Posts

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments