The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

Book review: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

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Thursday, 21 January 2016 - Last Updated on January 21, 2016
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

They say that your home is a reflection of your life. Accumulating too many things often result to clutter. When possessions take over your home and leave little free space, it becomes harder to achieve balance in life.

Clutter can prevent you from focusing on your tasks and exercising creativity. It becomes more challenging to concentrate and appreciate what you have. Before you know it, frustration sets in. Clutter can cause psychological and emotional challenges. With that said, it makes sense that clutter can weigh you down and prevent you from being happy.

Marie Kondo, a Japanese professional cleaning consultant came up with a guide to decluttering the home. She takes her readers through a step-by-step process to get rid of unwanted and unnecessary stuff. Her book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, written in 2011 became a best seller in Japan and in Europe. In 2014, the book was published in the United States. At present, Kondo’s book has been published in more than 30 countries. It has sold over 2 million copies worldwide.

Kondo developed a process called KonMari Method which highlights the benefits of simplifying, organizing, and storing.

I love the idea of a clutter-free home. I enjoy decluttering but I realized it’s not easy to get rid of some things. I end up keeping stuff that I rarely or never use at all. I always feel relieved after decluttering because of the freed space. But somewhere along the way, something new catches my attention and I buy more things. The space that I earlier cleared from clutter is again occupied and the cycle restarts. That’s the pattern in our house. I’m sure I’m not alone.

The book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up is a good read for people like me who need enlightenment about decluttering that actually works.

Kondo’s tidying concept mentions how vital it is to discard everything that does not “spark joy”.
When you go through your things, look at each item and ask yourself, does it spark joy? Kondo says if it doesn’t then discard it. With this simple and direct to the point move, the Japanese author teaches readers to rejuvenate their homes and eventually their lives.

What standard do you follow when purging your home from things that do not make you happy? Some experts insist on starting by getting rid of things that are not functional anymore. If you own something that has broken down or beyond repair, it’s best to throw it away. Apply the same thing when a part of a set is broken. It seems logical because certain things become worthless when a part is damaged.

Others suggest to discard things that are out of date. Many individuals are guilty of doing the opposite. A lot of people like to hold on things such as clothes even when they are no longer in fashion. I can attest to this because I opened my closet and it’s full. Probably a third of its contents are old blouses, jeans and slacks that I haven’t worn for years. Everything is squeezed together. Sometimes I request to have a blouse re-ironed because it became wrinkled when I placed it inside the closet and it got more creased when I got it out.

In Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, the author explains that “it’s easy to get rid of things when there is an obvious reason for doing so. It’s much more difficult when there is no compelling reason.” She mentioned that some experts have proposed of certain standards to guide people in their decluttering goals such as getting rid of things that haven’t been used for a certain period (i.e. a year, two years, etc.). Some suggest that if you find it hard to discard of some things, you can place them in a box and look at them again after six months. Kondo believes that once you focus on “how to choose what to throw away, you have actually veered significantly off course.” The author thinks that going about decluttering this way makes tidying more complicated and tough than it should be.

Kondo shares that after discovering The Art of Discarding when she was fifteen years old, she developed into a “disposal unit.” She made it her mission to get rid of unnecessary things. Kondo became engrossed in doing research and finding new places where she could apply the theories she learned including her siblings’ rooms and the communal school storage lockers. She was convinced that it was possible to tidy any place.

At that point in her life, she was committed in applying the criteria she read in different books about reducing clutter. Kondo mentioned deeds like discarding clothes that she hasn’t worn for two years, getting rid of a piece of clothing every time she bought a new one and throwing things that she wasn’t sure of.  Kondo was puzzled that despite all her efforts of decluttering, her home didn’t even come close to being tidy. The concepts that she read in other books didn’t help her at all. Reducing her possessions became a source of stress instead of fulfillment. It later became difficult to relax in her own house.

The frustration of spending three years tidying up and not getting the results she envisioned was almost too much to bear. Kondo was at the brink of giving up. She wondered why her room remained cluttered after working so hard in tidying it.

Then it dawned on her, “we should be choosing what we want to keep, not what we want to get rid of.”

It was a light bulb moment for the cleaning obsessed. Kondo realized that she was blinded with the task of getting rid of unwanted things that she lost sight of the things that are special to her.

In her book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up the author wrote, “through this experience, I came to the conclusion that the best way to choose what to keep and what to throw away is to take each item in one’s hand and ask: “Does this spark joy?” If it does, keep it. If not, dispose of it. This is not only the simplest but also the most accurate yardstick by which to judge.”



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Rachel Yapchiongco, also known as Rach to her friends, is a Psychology and Marketing Management graduate of De La Salle University. Rachel is a mom to a charming boy and married to an entrepreneur who has a passion for cooking. She shares parenting experiences and slices of everyday life on her personal blog called Heart of Rachel.

Ma. Rachel Yapchiongco (389 Posts)

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