Perhaps your first reaction is like Brynne’s: “A New York Times Best Seller? It’s a book about cleaning!”
Ah yes, my young padawans, we are not yet Jedis. There is much to learn…
Marie Kondo is a tidy-Jedi. I love this book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.” Now quite famous in Japan, this method is called the “Kon-Mari method.” Very Jedi-like.
The word “tidying” does not refer to organizing. Rather, this book is about ridding our life of everything unnecessary. In the process, we find joy.
It’s not really about organizing and cleaning. It does not speak of The Container Store, buying more bins, or storage units. In fact, Kondo has something to say about that:
Storage Experts Are Hoarders.
Woah! Hold on to your boot straps, missy, we are going for a ride!
Kon-Mari is really funny. She was born wanting to organize. Even in kindergarten, she didn’t like to play. She liked to put things away. In middle school she rushed home so she could organize the house. OCD? Uh, yeah. But let’s just say, this girl is using her organizing super powers to change the world!
What prompted me to pick up this book? I am on a serious quest to feel less crazy, less busy, less frazzled. I’m craving simplicity. So often, I just feel like I’m moving stuff around the house. This book was quite a serendipitous find.
Section One. I ask you, WHY CANT I KEEP MY HOUSE IN ORDER?
I have kids! I swear that’s the reason. I’m pretty sure our Jedi master, Kon-Mari, doesn’t have kids. Just saying. That’s my only criticism. I could be wrong. Maybe she has 12. But she lives in Japan, so probably not.
Anyway, I acknowledge this is an excuse. Once I got past “it’s all the kid’s fault,” I dug deep, read, and examined my habits and flaws.
There are five basic sections of the book:
1. Why Can’t I Keep My House in Order?
2. Finish Discarding First
3. Tidying by Category Works Like Magic
4. Storing Your Things to Make Your Life Shine
5. The Magic of Tidying Dramatically Transforms Your Life
Kondo takes you by the hand and gently says, “Its not your fault you’re a slob. You just haven’t been taught how.” For instance, her clients are most often women in their 50s.
“Never ball up socks…look at them carefully. This should be a time for them to rest. They’ve worked hard for you. Do you really think they can get any rest like that?”
Ha! This is for real! Oh, I love it.
Did you know your real life begins when home gets put in order?
If books have voices, this one spoke to me.
Kondo states that storing stuff just hides the problems, conceals things we don’t need under a lid. Putting things away creates the illusion that the clutter problem has been solved.
This is why tidying must start with discarding.
In the last month I have gotten rid of at least ten bags of stuff. It feels so good.
But there is much left to do. How? Work in categories, not by room: clothes, books, papers, miscellaneous (CDs, skincare products, makeup, household equipment….), sentimental.
Clothes. You are to handle each item. Hold it up and ask, “Does this spark joy?” If not, give it away. Immediately.
It’s all about feeling. It’s our rational brain that gets in the way. I might use it. I might need it. It was expensive. It was a gift.
How do you get rid of something that doesn’t spark joy? “Express your appreciation for their contribution to your life. Tell them, ‘Thank you for the boost you gave me when I bought you,’ or ‘Thank you for getting me a little more fit.'” and then say good-bye.”
I laughed out loud several times, but then I actually tried it. It works! Mentally, it helped me get say let go. It has also sparked appreciation. Imagine if we got rid of everything except the essentials. Wouldn’t we be more grateful for those few possessions?
“Say good-bye joyfully with words, like ‘Thank your for finding me’ or ‘Have a good journey. See you again soon!'”
I tried this out on The Professor.
Me: “Okay, honey, does this bring you joy?” (old t-shirt)
“I guess not.”
Me: “Okay, thank it for its service in your life and then say good-bye.”
“No, I’m not doing that.”
Obviously, some of us have a hard time getting in touch with our feelings. Whatever. But it worked for me!
It was much easier for me to let go if I said thank you. I could imagine my old clothes saying, Free at last, I am free at last not stuck under Amy’s bed!
What about the rebound effect? Kondo says this over and over: “Rebound occurs because people mistakenly believe they have tidied thoroughly, which in fact they have only sorted and stored things halfway. If you put your house in order properly, you’ll be able to keep your room tidy, even if you are lazy or sloppy by nature” (which she says she is).
People cannot change their habits without first changing their way of thinking.
There’s so much wisdom in this book I want to reread it all over again.
I highly recommend it!
You want the space you live in to be graced only with those things that speak to your heart and bring joy.
“Tidying is our opportunity to express our appreciation to our home for all it does for us.”
Amen to that. And now, back to tidying.