While wandering between the shelves of Barnes and Noble one day last September, Michael pointed out a cute little book titled, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. After reading this book, I proceeded, with unmatched passion, to go through an epic purging of everything in the house. He has since deeply regretted ever introducing such a thing to me.
The basic premise of the book is this: one should only surround himself with things that “spark joy,” which will presumably lead him to experience greater joy in life. Another side effect of the KonMari process is that one discovers what is most important, thereby gaining a deeper understanding of himself and becoming freed to apply this principle to all other aspects of life.
Kondo’s advice is surprisingly simple. She gives only two steps:
- Discard: take each item in hand and decide whether or not it sparks joy.
- Organize: everything should always be put in its proper place.
She insists on setting aside a length of time to complete the discarding process in one fell swoop. The reason being that only this way will there be a dramatic enough effect that one can feel and see a difference. Other de-cluttering advice, such as throwing out one item a day at a time, she says, is much too subtle, and doesn’t change one’s lifestyle in the long run. Then, only after discarding should organizing begin, with every item in its predetermined place. Supposedly, after following these two steps, you will never have to tidy again.
So..is she right, and is her method really life-changing? ……….I can’t comment on that yet because I confess that I shamefully gave up discarding halfway through, and lost momentum [which, by the way, is one of the reasons she says to do it all in one go]. Haha. However, one of my goals is to complete the process [perhaps even start over..] within the next month. We shall see then. I will say though, that even without completing this task, I have seen how my attitude towards buying things has changed. I now have more selectivity, questioning whether I truly need or love something before purchasing the thing.
I would recommend this book to most people. The anthropomorphism may be a bit much for those of us who grew up with Western culture, and I think she is rather too extreme at times [I will probably never ever take out all my bottles and wipe them dry after a shower, like she says I should]. However, the principles and practical tips can be very helpful in getting clutter under control.
Ultimately, as I strive towards a life of intentionality, this book has helped me see how possessions also play a part in what demands my attention, what can distract from the important. Marie Kondo states two reasons why we cannot bear to part with things: attachment to the past and/or anxiety for the future. I personally tend towards the former. But by confronting things from the past and actively letting them go, I also free myself to be more present in the present.
“For me, becoming minimalist has always been about more than removing physical belongings. It is also the intentional promotion of the things I most value. It is about deciding what is most important in my life and removing the things that distract me from it.”
Joshua Becker, Elevate the Important