The question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life. from The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo, p.182
I’m about halfway through the process of tidying my house according to Marie Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. I’ve done clothes, accessories, books, paper, and bath and beauty products. I’m working on komono, which Marie defines as miscellaneous items, including office supplies, kitchen supplies, electronics, and utility items.
Marie Kondo developed the KonMari Method of decluttering in Japan; her book was recently translated from Japanese into English, and it has quickly become one of the most popular organizing books in the United States. KonMari is more than just another organizing program. Marie asks her clients and readers to rethink their attachment to possessions. She believes that when your home is filled with things you love, stored sensibly and neatly, your whole life changes. It’s absolutely crazy to say this, but I think she’s right.
The KonMari Method of decluttering is quite simple:
- tidy by category, not location
- keep only the things that bring you joy
- discard completely before organizing
The life-changing magic occurs when you release things that aren’t useful anymore or make you feel sad, guilty, or embarrassed and embrace things that make you feel good about who you are and what you are doing with your life.
The process of assessing how you feel about the things you own, identifying those that have fulfilled their purpose, expressing your gratitude, and bidding them farewell, is really about examining your inner self, a rite of passage to a new life. The yardstick by which you judge is your intuitive sense of attraction, and therefore there’s no need for complex theories or numerical data [about how many of each item you should keep/discard.] pp. 64-65
Like many people, I have a home full of stuff. I thought I had a manageable amount of stuff, but the more I tidy, the more I realize I have many things I don’t need, want, or use. I’ve held onto things because they have sentimental value or I might need them someday or I spent money on them and to give them away would be a waste. I have five closets and a garage filled with stuff that makes me feel sad or guilty every time I see it. That’s no way to live!
When I first heard about the KonMari Method, I visualized what it would be like to touch everything in my house, from the top of the entry way closet to the bottom of the bathroom cabinet, and decide whether or not it brought me joy. I just knew it was the right way for me to go through all of my belongings once and for all.
Of course, when someone introduces a new idea, there is the inevitable backlash. Some people confuse KonMari with minimalism or think it’s just about being extremely neat. Others think it’s too time-consuming and impossible to do if you have a family. KonMari isn’t about getting rid of everything you have and living an austere existence. It’s not about turning your family into a platoon of tiny tidy-ers (although, that may have its benefits!) It’s about choosing to surround yourself with things that are beautiful and useful and bring a smile to your face when you see them.
When you discard everything that doesn’t bring you joy, you have room for what does. You find a place for everything you own, and, because there is room to breathe in your cabinets, closets, and shelves, you don’t have to shove things into an already-crowded space, which leads to more calm in your home and in your mind. As a fellow KonMari adventurer said, we don’t have a storage problem, we have a stuff problem.
The process of facing and selecting our possessions can be quite painful. It forces us to confront our imperfections and inadequacies and the foolish choices we made in the past. p.183
I’ve already experienced the life-changing magic in my master suite. I’ve completely sorted through my bedroom, bathroom, and closets. My bedroom furniture, which I bought last summer, brings me so much joy I’m actually making my bed every morning. My bathroom contains only the products I use. My clothes are hung beautifully in one closet, and my lingerie, socks, and t-shirts are neatly folded in my spacious dresser – one drawer is even empty! I keep my Stella & Dot samples in the second closet. This week, I went through everything, choosing which items to sell in my sample sale and arranging the items I’m keeping in trays. When I get dressed in the morning, it’s like I’m walking into a boutique, with beautiful clothes and accessories picked just for me!
Almost everything in my bedroom is perfect now – it’s the craziest thing to walk through the door, knowing there is no clutter! There are some things I’d like to change – the duvet and pillow shams don’t bring me joy – and I want to remodel my bathroom someday, but for now, everything is as it should be. Freed from disorder, guilt, and sadness, my mind can imagine a life in which my home supports me instead of weighing me down.
Before I move onto the next komono, I have to do something about my second bedroom, which I use as a sitting/TV room. It’s a catch-all for the miscellaneous items I can’t put away because my cabinets, chests, and closets are already full, so I don’t really enjoy being in there. I have a plan for what to do with all of it, and I’ll share it with you in my next blog post, appropriately titled Tidying Up the KonMari Way: Halfway There, Part 2. 🙂
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