After reading this book by Marie Kondo, I made some major life changes. Let me tell you what this book is all about.
This is what I like to call a ‘self-development’ book, but might be more commonly known as a self-help book. Well, while I am taking a break from work and school, I am trying to learn as much as I can, even if it is about something as simple as being tidier. Being a firm believer already in keeping a tidy life, I wanted to see what Kondo had to say. Let me tell you, I didn’t know it was possible to think so deeply about such a simple subject like tidying up.
Here is the quick summary courtesy of Amazon: “Despite constant efforts to declutter your home, do papers still accumulate like snowdrifts and clothes pile up like a tangled mess of noodles? Japanese cleaning consultant Marie Kondo takes tidying to a whole new level, promising that if you properly simplify and organize your home once, you’ll never have to do it again. Most methods advocate a room-by-room or little-by-little approach, which doom you to pick away at your piles of stuff forever.”
Well, it is a pretty short read, or in my case, listen. I chose to purchase the audiobook from Audible so I could put her advice into affect as she was saying it. When she suggested to pull out all of your clothing and examine each piece one-by-one, that is exactly what I did. The beauty of an audio book is that I never lost my momentum. I never had to decided between leaving my cozy bed to do as the book was suggesting right then and there, or staying cozy while I keep reading, promising myself that I would tidy as soon as the chapter ended. As she suggested it, I did it, so by the time the book was done, I was done tidying my room.
What really resonated with me was Kondo’s method of evaluating objects. She suggested holding it up and asking, “Does this bring me joy?” What a great idea, to have a home filled only with things that bring joy! As her quote above suggests, Kondo also advocates for keeping your mindset in the present. Do not let yourself be fooled into believing that you “might need this for a Holloween costume next year!” This is something I was previously guilty of, and let me tell you, the day never came that I needed a zebra stripped shirt or 1960’s Mod-style dress. Similarly, Kondo’s methods help the reader acknowledge that you do not need an culturally-specific piece of jewelry or a free tee shirt to remind you of your past experiences. Many times I have found myself refusing to donate a bracelet I purchased while in Costa Rica or Spain despite the fact that it is just collecting dust. To me, this bracelet will remind me of my travels for years to come. Kondo argues that a picture could do the same. You already have the memory, and to Kondo, that is enough.
Although her methods are good, Kondo takes tidying to a whole new level, sometimes too intensely for my liking. Kondo suggests letting dishes and kitchen sponges air dry outside and moving shampoo and body wash into the shower daily. To Kondo, both of these suggestions will keep your counter top space free. To me, however, this seems like a daily inconvenience that I just don’t need in my life! Here is how I see it: I shower daily. Although Kondo states it will only take a minute to move shampoo from under the counter, to the tub, and back again, that is 365 minutes of my life a year! If I live for another 50 years and practice this technique every day, I would have spent 304 hours of my life moving shampoo. No thank you, Kondo, but I appreciate the advice.
This did however spark an idea for me. Kondo showed me that tidying is so much more than its foremost layer. You can extend her tidying mentality to people. Tidy up your group of friends by choosing to surround yourself with people that add to your happiness. Kondo also stresses understanding the purpose behind a product. In an example, she states that just because you were given a gift doesn’t mean you have to keep it. To Kondo, the purpose of the gift was to bring happiness to the giver, not necessarily the receiver. So by passing along a gift you did not enjoy, you are continuing to fulfill the item’s purpose. I took this mentality and extended it to loosing a friend. I should understand that sometimes a person’s purpose was only to prove that you don’t need them in your life.
As a side note, I personally found Kondo’s narration style to be a little self-serving and arrogant, but I am sure I can come off that way to when I am talking about what I have learned. Kondo is an expert in this field and speaks as such. I found that it helped to remember that not everything she suggested will work for my lifestyle (the book is, after all, geared to a Japanese style house and lifestyle).
Overall, I would recommend this book. The advice inside is worth the short read and cost of the book. More than anything, this book has inspired me to fill my life with joy and to acknowledge the purpose behind the things and people in it.
Do you surround yourself with things that spark joy? Let me know.