Can figuring out how to fold your underwear help you process your past and trust yourself more? According to Marie Kondo, the author of "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up," it definitely can.
I bought this book at the airport. I was drawn to the words "life-changing magic." Turns out that was an accurate description and a good decision. This book was magic.
What really what sets this book apart is the perspective it has on tidying. Tidying isn't really about knowing your drawer space, tidying is about knowing yourself.
And because of that, much to my surprise, this book taught me about joy.
Here are just five of the joy-inducing, perspective-shifting principles of Kondo's amazing book:
1. Don't blame yourself for not knowing how. Tidying is not a gift; it's a skill.
The author dispels a big myth right out of the gate. That myth? That you should just *know* how to tidy.
"The general assumption, in Japan at least, is that tidying doesn't need to be taught but rather is picked up naturally."
That's pretty crippling, huh? Either you have the gift or you don't. Sorry, messier folks, there's no hope for you! Wrong.
The fact is, you can't tidy if you never learned how. That's the title of one of the very first chapters! And learning to tidy doesn't involve magic, and it's not a gift that the Tidy Fairy bestows once in a generation.
Tidying is a simple physical act, like a dance move. It's something anyone can learn.
Here are the two tidying "dance moves:"
- Decide whether or not to dispose of something.
- Decide where to put what you keep.
And when you do the moves, you're doing it right. But there's one special sauce to add ... FEELINGS!
2. You can trust yourself and your emotions. They're actually very precise in their wisdom.
The secret sauce of the one-two step of tidying above is ... put a little feeling in it! (OK, put a lot of feeling in it! You deserve it.) When you're tidying, feel your clothes. Then feel your feelings. If you feel a jolt of joy, you're keepin' it.
Your emotions are your divining rod, leading you toward goodness.
"You're not deciding what to throw out, you're deciding what to keep. In your house, but also in your mind and in your future."
And they're precise! According to Kondo, if you really listen to that jolt of joy, you'll wind up with the PERFECT amount of possessions. You cannot fail yourself.
3. No comparing.
This is your dance.
As Kondo says, "You are the standard." I love how straightforward this principle is. You can't possibly compare your tidying process to anyone else's. Those jolts of joy that are telling you to keep one item but not the other? Those are your jolts and yours alone. They're special!
4. Be prepared for completing, not for starting.
"Storage should reduce effort to put things away, not effort to get them out. "
You'll start that project anyway, but will you be ready for the NEXT start? This doesn't mean you should always be looking toward the future. Rather, it means that the hard part is moving on.
Create a world where you can put what you're doing away and move on to the next phase.
Finally, the most mind blowing thing ... why tidying in this way really matters:
5. It's not actually about your stuff. It's about YOU.
Kondo talks about sorting through clothes, books, and mementos in a very personal way.
"It is not our memories but the person we have become because of those past experiences that we should treasure."
This is where it gets very "your possessions have a lot to tell you," a la Beauty and the Beast.
Because you're not just processing your stuff, you're processing your past.
"By handling each sentimental item and deciding what to discard, you process your past."
For example, that book you haven't read isn't a negative representation of your lack of stick-to-it-ness. If you haven't read that book, perhaps its purpose wasn't to be READ by you, but to teach you that you didn't really need to read it.
And by dropping unused things that don't bring you joy in your home, you drop things that don't bring you joy in your life! And along the way, you discover you might just be doing it — aka life — right.
Just imagine all your unused things saying, "You got this," as you toss them into the resale bag. That's right, even your possessions believe in you!
It's as easy as going through your stuff and noting what brings you joy.
And when something brings you joy, in your closet or in your life, KEEP IT. It's as simple as that.
Personally, I needed to learn that. And, not gonna lie, it's kinda working for me! I'm sharing this story in the hopes that you or someone you know gets a little jolt of joy knowing they're not the world's most messy person, but just on a journey of knowledge!
That's some magic.