Thursday, October 1, 2015

Book Review: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo

I heard about this book from Rachel Balducci and decided to request it from the library when I saw there were dozens of people waiting for it. They couldn't all be wrong, right?

Ms. Kondo writes in a casual style, relating stories of her own youth and learning experiences in sharing how to decrease unnecessary belongings.
I discovered that there is no point whatsoever in changing your approach to suit your personality. When it comes to tidying, the majority of people are lazy.
That certainly seems true, especially of my children.

For Ms. Kondo, tidying starts with discarding. The less we have, the easier it is to put everything in its place.
[We] should be choosing what we want to keep, not what we want to get rid of.
She claims we should hold each item, not just look at it, and ask of ourselves, "Does this spark joy?" Kansas Dad pointed out that he can't get rid of his electric screwdriver just because it doesn't "spark joy," but I think in many ways her point is valid. For example, she mentions purchased supplies for projects never completed that haunt us from the depths of our closets. Wouldn't it be better to admit that project will never be completed (at least by me) and pass those supplies on to someone else? I in fact did just that, discarding some supplies I had gathered back in 2004. Did I feel lighter or just imagine it?

She recommends that you start with your own room. The rest of the family will follow suit. Spending time in my own room cleaning and clearing is time I am not harassing my children or even quietly stewing about the messes elsewhere in the house. I suppose if they don't follow my example, at least I can go sit in my own beautiful tidy room to soothe my senses.

Then, there are the gifts!
The true purpose of a present is to be received....Of course, it would be ideal if you could use it with joy. But surely the person who gave it to you doesn't want you to use it out of a sense of obligation, or to put it away without using it, only to feel guilty every time you see it. When you discard or donate it, you do so for the sake of the giver, too.
Considering gifts in this light, I donated a number of items we had floating around the house after years of collecting dust without any guilt. It's also changed my attitude about receiving gifts. So often, when receiving something well-meant but unnecessary, I would feel frustrated. Instead of feeling their love, I would immediately start to wonder where I would put the gift. Now, I can (in theory) delightfully receive everything, focusing on the love instead of the thing.

You are very likely to get rid of something you find you need in the future. She admits this, but claims you'll find it doesn't matter that much.
Life becomes far easier once you know that things will still work out even if you are lacking something.
She has a strange affinity for possessions. She talks to them, thanking them for their hard work. She claims they want to help us. I think that's probably going a bit too far myself, but I do think it's better if material possessions are treated properly and if they are passed on to someone else who can really use them if they are no longer useful in my home.

This short book is worth a bit of time. Even if you don't take all her advice to heart, you may find joy in reading aloud some of the more unusual passages.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments make me happy; thanks for speaking up!