Book Review: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

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The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo
Release Date: January 15, 2011
Publisher: Ten Speed Press
Pages: 224 pages
See it on GoodReads

GoodReads Description: "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. The KonMari Method, with its revolutionary category-by-category system, leads to lasting results. In fact, none of Kondo's clients have lapsed (and she still has a three-month waiting list).
With detailed guidance for determining which items in your house "spark joy" (and which don't), this international best seller featuring Tokyo's newest lifestyle phenomenon will help you clear your clutter and enjoy the unique magic of a tidy home - and the calm, motivated mindset it can inspire."

“Imagine what it would be like to have a bookshelf filled only with books that you really love. Isn’t that image spellbinding? For someone who loves books, what greater happiness could there be?” Indeed, Marie Kondo.  I don’t know about you but that particular passage gives me great feelings of joy and contentment.  And it sums up what I loved about this book.  

I had never considered minimalism as something I would want in my life before I read this book, but she brought to light two ideas that really spoke to me.  The first one is illustrated in the above quote.  That we should love the things we own and own the things we love.  What is the point of keeping those books that we kind of liked?  What is the point of keeping that decoration or shirt or dish or gift that I don’t like?  What would it be like to be surrounded only with quality items that I love?  It would be amazing.  

The second idea was that clutter and disorder is stressful.  I honestly didn’t even realize how true this was until I started purging things.  Oh my gosh, it felt like a weight lifted up off my shoulders.  I didn’t need that stuff and it was just filling up my space and making it messy and disorderly and distracting!  It is such a relief!  Then, once I have removed all this distraction – I can focus on the things I actually need and want to focus on!  

She does recommend talking to inanimate objects and thanking them for serving their purpose in your life.  Which was weird.  And I didn’t do.  Except maybe to the stuffed animals!  Ha-ha!  

And I won’t pretend that I’ve finished purging – because I haven’t.  The ideas in her book are brilliant – and if I was a single woman with no kids, I would be done.  But I literally can’t work on this constantly until I’m done or leave everything out until I’m done – like she suggests – because my husband would not be happy and my two year old would destroy my keep/discard piles...  I would actually love her thoughts on solutions for this now that I heard she has a child – but I also have found some on Pinterest myself.  It does make it a slower process, but the main thing is that she has truly inspired me to seek out this life of simplicity - being focused on things I love.  And not just things but people and experiences!  Focus on the things that “spark joy!”  Keep the things that “spark joy!”  Discard the rest.  This is such a better way to live – and it makes so much logical sense – I can’t believe I wasn’t always striving to live this way!

The “KonMari” method which she lays out in her book consists of looking at your stuff and asking the following questions:
  • Does it spark joy?
  • Is it necessary?
  • Does it work?
  • Does it have a place?

Yes?  Keep it.  No?  Get rid of it.

Some of her best tips were: 
  • Do one huge purge instead of several little ones so that you can feel and see the difference  (I can’t do this, but I do as-big-as-time-will-allow purges as often as I’m able and I always feel that relief)
  • Organize by category instead of by room so you see what you actually have
  • Purge first then organize what’s left

In the end, I rated this book 4 stars on GoodReads because “I really liked it.”  The only reasons it was not 5 stars is because I wish it would have considered other lifestyles – like those of us with kids and those of us who may have to hold on to items simply because they cannot currently be replaced due to financial restraints.  I would, however, recommend the book wholeheartedly to everyone!  It opened my eyes to a way of living that feels so much more right… So much more wholesome and joyful and even biblical.  

This book also inspired me to read “Present Over Perfect” by Shauna Niequist as well as “Simplify: 7 Guiding Principles to Help Anyone Declutter Their Home and Life.” 
Look for these reviews soon!

Favorite Quotes:
“The question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life.”

“But when we really delve into the reasons for why we can’t let something go, there are only two: an attachment to the past or a fear for the future.”  

“The space in which we live should be for the person we are becoming now, not for the person we were in the past.”

“The best criterion for choosing what to keep and what to discard is whether keeping it will make you happy, whether it will bring you joy.”

“Keep only those things that speak to your heart.  Then take the plunge and discard all the rest.  By doing this you can reset your life and embark on a new lifestyle.”

“Tidying is just a tool, not the final destination. The true goal should be to establish the lifestyle you want most once your house has been put in order.”