Monday, June 22, 2015
Book Review: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up
This cloud bedecked cover started showing up on newsfeeds, Instagram, and blog posts about a year ago. I was intrigued. And now I understand why. Marie Kondo has crafted a lovingly written book about how to change your life through cleaning up your house. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing is a slim volume (200 pages) but the impact is far-reaching.
The premise of the KonMari tidying method is to pull everything, all of your possessions, onto one spot (starting with clothes and then moving onto to subsequent categories) and while holding each item, decide whether is sparks joy. The idea behind starting with everything in one place, rather than room by room, means it will be less likely that you forgot about that box in the closet in that room.
Once you have completely purged your house, storage is the next item on the to-do list to tackle. Kondo advises against trying to solve the storage problem before you completely finish discarding items, stating, "storage 'solutions' are really just prisons within which to bury possessions that spark no joy." In other words, if you decide that the 10,000 DVD's you own no longer have a place in your heart, rushing to buy a tower for them before you purge wastes time, space and energy.
While this book is about tidying, as the title suggests, the more present and underlying theme is gratitude. Have gratitude for items that are in your life and have gratitude for the items that you are sending on their way. It seems odd to state this about a book, but each page is gently written. There is no judgement, no special must buy items to help further your life, just lots of encouragement. In the chapter about personal items, the author says, "By handling each sentimental item and deciding what to discard, you process your past." How many of us have those old letters from past lovers, saved emails that are cruel? Kondo says let them go. In another chapter, she says "to truly cherish the things that are important to you, you must first discard those that have outlived their purpose."
The author ends the book with a wish that everyone who reads or follows her method "be able to experience the joy and contentment of living surrounded by the things they love." It is a lovely sentiment that is deeply present on each page of this guide. This book is a must read for everyone.