As we begin the new year, one project I’m really looking forward to is cleaning up. What I really mean is de-cluttering. Lightening our load. Mostly giving things away but also throwing some away. Because lately I’ve been feeling like we have a lot of stuff.
Around the holidays when there is so much consumerism, I look around and think – do we really need more stuff? Where are we going to put it? In addition, having two recently grown children who now have their own places but still have rooms full of stuff in our family home, it feels like enough belongings for five although there are really only three of us here.
Into my life came a book I discovered sometime in the middle of the holidays and it spoke to my malaise: “the life-changing magic of tidying up/the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing,” by Marie Kondo.
I am not one who generally needs inspiration to de-clutter. I do it regularly and actually enjoy it. However, I think of it as more of a necessary or focused project (as in, “I’m going to clear out this one closet!”) Ms. Kondo’s approach, coined, “The KonMari Method,” focuses on a category by category method of assessing which items “spark joy” and which, of course don’t. Her three-month waiting list to consult on her method speaks to her popularity in Tokyo where space is at an all-time premium. And the additional benefits of a tidy home include the inspiration of a calm, motivated mindset.
I just started reading this book but was struck at the beginning by the testimonials.
“After your course, I quit my job and launched my own business doing something I had dreamed of doing ever since I was a child.”
“Your course taught me to see what I really need and what I don’t. So I got a divorce. Now I feel much happier.”
“Someone I have been wanting to get in touch with recently contacted me.”
“I’m delighted to report that since cleaning up my apartment, I’ve been able to really increase my sales.”
“My husband and I are getting along much better.”
“I’m amazed to find that just throwing things away has changed me so much.”
“I finally succeeded in losing ten pounds.”
WHAT? I’ll take any of those! It sounds kind of silly but I think I get it. All that stuff we carry around that feels like extra weight, weighs us down in more ways than we know. That rings true for me. And I assume many of the other 2 million people who have purchased this book.
Well, Ms. Kondo – I am happy to report that although I am not too far along in your book as of yet, I did make some progress on my clutter today.
I tackled a few boxes of mine and found many craft projects and supplies. They date back to my youngest son’s first Halloween costume and he is now sixteen! Although I don’t have most of your methodology in my arsenal yet, I did keep in mind to think if each item brought me joy. That was tremendously helpful.
I realized I often keep things out of guilt:
I didn’t wear it enough.
There’s nothing wrong with it.
I can use this someday.
There are starving children in Africa …..
That last message … “there are starving children in Africa …” was so revealing. This is where the guilt comes from! Lessons taught as a child. To eat everything on your plate. To waste nothing. And the intent of the message is not bad but the execution can be. To overeat. To hoard. I rethink the lesson as: is it not better to give away things we’re not using? And donate both time and resources to the causes we believe in? Because how is keeping objects that we’re not using out of guilt helping anyone?
I will document my progress as I go forward in this process. And I look forward to spending more time with Ms. Kondo and her potentially life-changing philosophy and to sharing it with you.