I’ve been talking a lot about The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up lately, so I thought I’d do a more concise “review” of it – at least a look at why/how it resonated with me and at some of her key points. I do recommend it, and think it was definitely worth reading; even as much as I think/read about wardrobe minimalism and paring down in general, this book inspired me to look at things in completely new ways. Books, especially.
I read the book in a few hours, sitting in my chair in my office, looking out the big window and at my bookshelf. As she spoke about books and photos and papers, I started to think about what those things meant to me, and why I was holding on to them.
A lot of my books were part of my past, and looking at them made me feel guilty. I also had quite a few books that were meaningful to me, but hadn’t been cracked open in years, and that I thought someone else would appreciate.
Ultimately, if I try to boil down what this book did for me, it is that it made me realize that things are just things. They can have meaning, and indeed, they do serve a purpose, but to me, right now, the “things” I thought were important to me, are not. The books I thought I’d hold on to forever? Thanked, and sold so someone else could enjoy them. My college papers (printed out, because it was before there were thumbdrives)? Re-read and discarded.
My family, Dagny, my career, my health, and my plants (yes, technically things, I guess) are important to me. Along with a few other “things” but only because they have a purpose right now in my life, not for their memories.
Before reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I hadn’t thought about my books in a way that would ever let me get rid of any of them, unless I was moving; the last hold outs were exempt and would be with me forever. My books were a part of me. They defined me.
Yet, I’m still here after discarding nearly all of my books. And even happier without them. Free. To create a new me? I don’t know, but maybe.
That is the “magic” Ms. Kondo speaks of I think – the freedom to choose new things and go in the direction of your heart once your space is un-cluttered:
when your room is clean and uncluttered, you have no choice but to examine your inner state
Scary, yes. But necessary, for some of us anyway. Those of us who are just a little discontent and need a push. Or a lot discontent and need a shove. Start with the discarding, then the re-organization, and you will finally see what comes next. More magic…
I hope this has inspired you to read the book yourself, but in addition, here are some more of the “notes” I made while reading it – please attribute all quotes to Marie Kondo.
Avoid the rebound effect – by doing it all at once, discarding FIRST, then organizing thoughtfully & completely in one go
1. picture the lifestyle you dream of – visualize it, make it concrete
2. identify WHY you want to live like that? (why do you want to be tidy?) to be HAPPY
3. examine what you own
a. what to discard? when it ceases to be functional, and/or is out of date
b. shift focus to what you want to keep, not what you want to get rid of.
decide to keep an item when you “feel a thrill of joy when you touch it
Figure out what each item you own or and/or consider discarding has taught you – then thank it for it’s service and send it on it’s way. This was crucial for me in purging my books – this, and knowing that my discarding them, I would be making them available to someone else, for them to enjoy and perhaps find meaning in.
thank you for giving me joy when I bought you
thank you for teaching me what doesn’t suit me
Every object has a different role to play – “NOT ALL CLOTHES HAVE COME TO YOU TO BE WORN THREADBARE” (emphasis mine) <--This. Soooo much this. I think this statement was one of the most impact-ful in the entire book for me. I analyze, and then over-analyze whenever I buy anything because I want it (or think it should) to last forever. And the truth is, that nothing is perfect, and of course, nothing will last forever – and why should it? Something should be in our wardrobes, in our lives, only until it no longer serves its purpose. If that is when it is threadbare, then so be it, but more than likely, it will be when we get tired of it and it still has some life left. Which is okay.
Wen you come across something you can part with , think carefully about its true purpose in your life – MAYBE it has already fulfilled it?
Free items from the prison to which you have relegated them, and let them go with gratitude.
What she says about photos – “cherish who you are now”
*I think this goes for everything though – even clothes – dress for who you are at this moment, dress for the size you are right now, dress for your current lifestyle – not your past, or future
TOUCH everything – handle everything letting it move you, or not
“honestly confront” everything you own and act on the intuition you feel
On stockpiling – (multiples):
even though they owned a huge stockpile, they always felt as if they didn’t have enough and were anxious about running out
Reduce until you feel the point where “something clicks” – you will reach the point at which you suddenly know that you have enough – that this is “just the amount i need to live comfortably”
once you reach this point, you will find that the amount you own never increases – you will never rebound…
On clothing –
Do not keep clothes you know you’ll never wear outside as loungewear. don’t “demote” your clothes – buy dedicated loungewear. – it merely delays parting with clothes that don’t spark joy (to demote them). This has always resonated with me; I relish my “home” clothes and never hesitate to purchase things exclusively for wearing at home…
TIME AT HOME IS STILL A PRECIOUS PART OF LIVING
its value should not change just because nobody sees us – “precisely because no one is there to see you, it makes far more sense to reinforce a positive self-image by wearing clothes you love
“as you run your hands over the cloth, you pour your energy into it”
folding clothes after the laundry gives you a chance to connect with them; to notice any rips or tears or loose buttons that need to be fixed – you have a dialogue with your wardrobe
Respect your clothes
“clothes, like people, can relax more freely when in the company of others who are very similar”
Treat socks with respect – un-ball them so they can rest & relax (I thought this was sort of funny, but I do it now….)
Avoid the need to store seasonal clothes – or switch closets
designate a place for each thing
routine for arriving home
thank everything for its hard work
take everything out of your bag, putting it all in its place, allowing your bag to rest (also gives you a chance to carry a different bag more frequently!!)
the existence of an item without a home multiplies the chances that your space will become cluttered again
“once you learn to choose your belongings properly, you will be left only with the amount that fits perfectly in the space you currently own” – MAGIC
…why do we have too much stuff? Usually it is because we do not accurately grasp how much we actually own
Remove tags from your clothes immediately, to welcome them into your home as your personal belongings – I would amend this to say that once you receive something, or get home from the store with it, you should first, try it on with other things you own, to make absolutely sure that it fits in your wardrobe, then, once you are, remove the tags. Do not even put things in your closet with tags on them! If you’re unsure, then send it back.
Appreciate your possessions, say thank you.
When you put your house in order, you discover what you really want to do:
*letting go is more important than adding
*confidence in your decision-making ability
*grateful to be surrounded by what you love
*reasons why we can’t let go: attachment to the past and/or fear for the future
*learning that you can do without
*everything you own wants to be of use to you
*affects your body – has a detox affect – contentment
There is no greater joy in life than being surrounded by what you love – people, things, animals…
I’m going to leave this here so we can discuss it more in the comments – because I think there is a lot more to say on this subject, and on her book. Her ideas are not revolutionary, of course, but I did appreciate the concise and sort of “funny” way she articulated them. And although she does personify things a bit more than I’m entirely comfortable with, I have always thought of my things as having some sort of life, hating to store them away not getting used, or being appreciated.
Have you read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up? What were your thoughts on it? How has it impacted your life/space?
(next book review: End Closet Chaos by Recovering Shopaholic Debbie Roes! Read along with me!! And if you have any suggestions for other books I should review, please let me know!)