I have some friends who literally can’t relax unless everything is picked up in their house, all of the dishes are clean and put away, and the floors and bathrooms are shining. We are so much alike! Except not at all. I would much prefer to relax than pick up my house. My dishes are never clean and most certainly not put away. And I pay someone to clean my floors and bathrooms or they would never get done.
(Disclosure: I received the book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up through the Blogging for Books program in exchange for an honest review. Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. If you choose to make a purchase I may receive a small commission.)
I’m kind of glad I live on the opposite end of town as all of my friends because if people would regularly just stop by my house they would be horrified at the sight. We have a deep need for some “life changing magic of tidying up” around our home. When I first saw this book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo, I thought it would tell me how to get motivated to be like my friends and choose picking up and cleaning instead of sitting around relaxing. This is not that book, at all. Initially, this book will require even more work than my friends do. (I’m tired already, just thinking about that.) But after trudging my way through the exhausting sounding advice in this book, my eyes have been opened to the possibilities of just how life changing the secrets in this book can be. And much to my delight, how far less exhausting “tidying up” can eventually be.
You see, the secret to this life change is not to be a super motivated clean freak of nature who can’t handle sitting in a messy house, the secret is to get rid of all of the extra stuff so that you won’t have stuff to be messy-ing up your house in the first place. Sure, you’ll have to keep some stuff, but when the amount of stuff is drastically less, you’ll have less to clean up, and therefore, a whole lot less work and chaos for yourself to deal with.
Truth be told, it took me a while to get through this book. I started out super skeptical. And there are some weird parts. First, the author is an organization and cleaning freak and her personal stories of spending all of her free time as a child cleaning and rearranging her family’s stuff, her classroom at school, and everyone else in the world’s junk were a little shocking. Who in their right mind considers organizing fun and what child wants to organize pencils in the classroom instead of playing at recess? Also, this book was originally written in Japanese and for a Japanese audience. It has been translated into English, so a few things get lost in translation and culture. She has a whole section dedicated to small figurines and suggests creating a shrine shelf in your home for all of these items that are supposedly only good for a year anyways. Say what? But I made it through the quirks in the book, and I still recommend it, because the meat of the book is gold. Just skim through the cultural and spiritual oddities (unless talking to your house and clothes are your thing, then be my guest).
As I reached the end of the book I started to envision what my house would be like if we started to take the advice of this book. To look at each item we owned and decide, “Does this spark joy?” and if the answer is “no”, we discard it and move on. There are so many things I can think of immediately off the top of my head that do not spark joy, but I keep them around because they were a gift, or because I feel like I should have them “just in case”, or because someone told me it’s important, or because she has one, so I should to. And that is just part of the reason that my house is always in a state of mess.
But what if we got rid of all of that and chose instead to surround ourselves only with things that truly bring us joy. How freeing! How spacious. The book shares many stories of the author’s clients and how their lives were changed as a result of putting these things into practice. It says “their awareness of what they like naturally increases and, as a result, daily life becomes more exciting.” (pg 176) She talks of people who discover their life passion after completing this work simply because when you are surrounded by only the items that bring you joy, you can easily see and pursue the activities that bring you joy. And one of my favorite quotes says “Life becomes far easier once you know that things will still work out even if you are lacking something.” (pg 187) Stuff-itis. It’s the American way. We have to have one of everything because the commercial says I need to, or the salesman told me it will change my life, or my friend has one and she’s got it all together, so it must be the answer to my mess. And yet, our stuff doesn’t satisfy, it doesn’t fix all our problems, and in fact, it just adds problems and makes life harder because we are surrounded by junk that we don’t enjoy, and we have to take care of that junk and it just sucks away even more joy.
Ah, yes, this really can be life changing. If you are unlike Marie Kondo and find cleaning and organizing to be a drag, or if you are sick of living in a house that feels too small, when you know it’s most certainly not, or if you just are just sick of living on the endless treadmill of “tidying up”, you should go find this book. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up just might change your life.
Disclaimer: I received this book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up for free from Blogging For Books in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.
UPDATE: I have now started a monthly series as I work through each category in The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up book. You can follow along with these posts: