So for any of you tidy nerds and organisational enthusiasts out there, you’ve probably come across The Life Changing Magic of Tidying by Marie Kondo, a professional Japanese organising consultant.
Her book has sparked (didja get that!) both ridicule and near slavish loyalty – ridicule for the apparent extreme measures she documents in how to assess the quotidian things in your life (keeping only the things that spark joy); and slavish loyalty in the way she teaches you how to say goodbye to clutter that you were too scared to dispose of for years, if not sometimes decades.
I am quite possibly baised in my review and dissemination of this book – I majored in Japanese at university; I spent 8-9 years studying it throughout school, and I lived and worked there for 2 years after graduating. I have an understanding of the Japanese way of doing things, their attitudes, and their lifestyle.
So Kondo’s rather unique reasoning in say, giving inanimate objects a life and energy, makes perfect sense to me. Some may argue it’s a little bit shinto. I mean ok, I don’t talk to my hand bags and thank them for the wonderful job they did performing for me during my use of them (which is actually what she suggests), but when I come home from work I usually do take a moment to internally express gratitude that I can come home to my own place, and indirectly I might thank my house for providing me with a roof over my head.
There, I said it: I thank my house for sheltering me.
Now I personally don’t find these sorts of things strange, but I’ve watched and read enough reviews from other people who take her book at face value and find her chapter on appreciating your possessions really, really weird. I can’t begin to justify her logic other than: it’s a cultural thing. Perhaps that puts western readers at a disadvantage, or perhaps the sometimes bizzare content is a chance for one to expand their comprehension of things laterally. Take what you will.
I remember I watched a review by Lily Pebbles, British beauty blogger and Youtube vlogger, who overall gave a favourable review of the book, but blanket applied the concepts to everything in the household, which isn’t the point. Sure, a TV remote doesn’t spark joy in one, but it’s a necessary household item if you own the TV that goes with the remote. This book isn’t addressing those sorts of things; it’s addressing the items in the house that you may have a less than an efficient or healthy relationship with – clothes, paper/receipts, unread books, old school material, everyday clutter etc.
I may have mentioned in the past that Caroline Rector’s blog, Un-Fancy, inspired me to live with a capsule wardrobe, but the original inspiration to get a hold on my possessions in life was from The Life Changing Magic of Tidying. Completely independent of taking your entire wardrobe and splitting it into piles of ‘yes I love this right now’ and ‘no I haven’t worn this in a year’, the book actually helped me understand why I held on to so many clothes even though I didn’t wear half of them (insecurities to plan for a possible fantasy future), and how to let go of ones that no longer served a purpose (pants that fitted me when I was 21 but which would never fit me again).
So I sat down and I did the ‘does this spark joy in me’ query and if not, then away the clothing item went with no pain. The clothes I had kept for sentimental reasons I thanked them for their time and service to me in making me feel good and youthful, but there was no way I would be able to fit in them again and they had to stop guilting me into feeling fat and old. And I let those go too. Of course I kept hold of clothes that have unquestionable meaning in my life.
Before I knew it I had a much more objective relationship with my clothes, one that wasn’t dependent on buying because I felt I was lacking in some respect, or buying in anticipation of an unrealistic hope.
In this regard, I think The Life Changing Magic of Tidying is a brilliant book because it comes so out of left field. If you find trouble letting go and can always justify why you should keep that item, then this book gives you a refreshing, albeit unique, perspective to view your resistance and where it’s coming from. It also gives you a birds eye view of how to look at everyday clutter and the method to break the wall you may feel you hit when faced with a chaotic scene. Even if you’re not in need of any specific help in tidying, this book is an entertaining read nevertheless.
You can find the hardcopy at Dymocks here.
*This post contains an affiliate link, which means I may make a small commission from any purchases you make through the link. Feel free to Google and purchase the book elsewhere if you’d like.