Sunday, 8 May 2016


I was elated when my I unwrapped Marie Kondo's beautiful little hardcover book "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing." Partly mystified that my boyfriend had listened to what I wanted for Christmas and had chosen the correct book, I could hardly hold in my excitement to delve into the art (yes art) of tidying and cleaning.

On the surface, the book seems to attract those who need to declutter their house. Perhaps you are the kind of person who holds on to everything, whether it be sentimental or not, although it may have lost its purpose of functionality. Perhaps you want to start the new year with a "fresh start" and so am drawn to the book in hopes that Kondo will help you check that one resolution off your list "Clean the house-CHECK." However, after reading about a quarter way through, the book inspires much more than that. I will touch on that later.


In order to help one move forward into the process of decluttering, Kondo offers a few pieces of advice. In fact, she tends to repeat herself throughout the entire book, reminding the reader of a few key strategies that will keep participants from relapsing. Part of the KonMari Method encourages the reader to:
  1. Sort by category, not by rooms in the house. We tend to keep the same products in different places in the house and therefore can never really gauge how much stuff we actually have.
  2. Clean in the order of: clothing, books, papers, miscellaneous things, and then sentimental keepsakes. Kondo also discusses each category in detail and how to handle almost every item you can think of.
  3. Treat your objects with the respect they deserve. Kondo's writing is playful and funny but in fact at times can be quite enlightening. She advises greeting your house with a "Hunny, I'm home!" type of attitude and even recognizes the burden of the bottom sweater of a pile. She prompts you to think of that poor sweater that has been holding up the weight of its brothers and sisters time and time again. (Note: She emphasizes never piling your items on top of one another but instead arranging them vertically to maximize accessibility and care.)
  4. Understand fancy storage items are deceiving. You are not actually cleaning but rather just "moving things around." Decluttering is the art of being selective and getting rid of unnecessary things, not simply hiding them away like a bad IKEA commercial.
  5. Throw away things that have already filled their purpose. Kondo explains how many participants hold on to souvenirs, letters, and other gifts solely out of guilt. However, the true meaning behind these gifts were to convey to the receiver "I was thinking of you." So once you have read that letter or accepted that gift, the item has already filled its purpose. Throw it out.
  6. And finally, possibly the most important thing Kondo encourages, only hold on to items that spark joy. Kondo explains that the pivotal solution to having a clean and happy home, is by only keeping items that make you happy. So how do you choose items that elicit joy? Search your whole house and take every categorical item, lay them out on the floor, and touch each item one by one. Joy is a physical sensation, she states. It is recognizable on a person's face, energy, and body. If the thing you hold fills you with happiness, keep it. This means no opening books to read the words or saying "I might use this later." In a sense, it is about choosing things that make you happy in the present moment; no persuasion needed. She ever goes so far as to say that if her book does not bring you happiness after reading it, toss it into the garbage.
To wrap things up, Kondo's book was very insightful and I have already recommended it to many of my friends and coworkers. Two of them have already received their orders from Amazon and I undoubtedly foresee a few nights of intensive cleaning. The only advice I have for buyers, is to stick with it. Kondo's method works only if you have the guts, ambition, and desire to be ready to part with a lot of things. And for some people, like my relentless mother, this may not be a book for everyone. However, I can see this book being opened again and used in the near future for my personal use. Yes, this book deserves a place on my bookshelf of joy.

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