This week we’re discussing chapters one and two of our September book club pick: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo.
This past week it was all I could do to not furiously begin discarding unwanted items. Somehow, the simple question posed in Marie Kondo’s best-selling book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up — “does this spark joy?” — unlocked something in my brain. Now, everywhere I look in my small apartment I spy items that most certainly do not. As much as I wanted to just dive right in, I was determined to follow the advice doled out in chapters 1 and 2 of this easy read and hold back. It wasn’t time yet (as much as I wished it was).
This book represents a bit of a turning point for me. I’ve always had a tendency to write off similar titles aimed at decluttering and minimizing because I just never saw myself as — as Kondo puts it — a “tidy” person. I’m messy, my life is messy. Always has been, and that was that. I saw things in black and white — there were the minimalists of the world and there were the rest of us. I would clean, and then time would naturally progress to the point where I’d need to clean again. Promises of permanent change sounded too good to be true, and so I resisted. But after delving deeper into the ‘KonMari Method’ and allowing my mind to open a bit more, I became intrigued by the promise of change across all areas of life, not just the material goods, and as we all learned in chapter one:
“People cannot change their habits without first changing their way of thinking.”
As much as I wanted to start discarding right away, there was mental work to be done first.
What I’ve really enjoyed about this book is how simply KonMari (the nickname the author goes by) lays everything out. Decluttering and tidying (quickly becoming a word I’d be happy never seeing again, if we’re being completely honest) isn’t rocket science, it’s simply “deciding whether or not to dispose of something and deciding where to put it.” It sounds so obvious, so why is it so difficult for some of us to abide by this simple mantra?
In chapter one we learned the “why” behind our habits and, for me, many of those “whys” held true. Like the younger KonMari, I often distracted myself with cleaning or organizing rather than studying when I was in college, my mind only settling once my desk was clean and put together an hour or so later. Like the younger KonMari, I often find myself obsessing over storage, remarking to visitors that “our apartment is great, but man, there’s no storage!” and it’s here, again in chapter one, that we learn that hiding things away won’t actually solve the problem.
“Visible mess helps distract us from the true source of the disorder. The act of cluttering is really an instinctive reflex that draws our attention away from the heart of the issue.”
This particular passage stuck with me long after I’d read it. How many times have I neglected to put something away only because I was stressed and didn’t want to deal with the problem? Many. When there’s nothing cluttering your space, you’re left to deal with the clutter in your head.
As I read, I found myself underlining quotes such as these to come back to. The rationale seems obvious, but it’s the way in which these ideas are presented that puts them into focus.
“We should be choosing what to keep, not what we want to get rid of.”
The goal is to handle each and every item you own – consider it, appreciate it, and ultimately decide whether or not to keep it. Ideally, we keep only the things that speak to our hearts, an idea I initially had a hard time getting past. Obviously it’s easy to think of clothes or books that spark joy in us, but what about life’s more mundane, everyday tools? Like a broom or the sponge you use to wash your dishes? These are questions tackled later in the book, but I can already see it comes down to appreciation.
Chapter two moves on the actual act of discarding. An act that is clearly not quite as simple as a weekend spent putting things in order. No, KonMari suggests tackling one category at a time, and even then breaking down those categories into subcategories. It’s a lot to take in, and I felt my motivation waver just a bit before I turned the page to the second section titled, “Before you start: visualize your destination.” Your destination isn’t just a cleaner home or more streamlined wardrobe, your destination is likely something far greater. A state of being, less stress…happiness. The journey may be longer than just an afternoon, but the reward is one I’m willing to try for.
This weekend I’ll be embarking on my own journey by tackling one of the more harrowing categories in my home – clothing – and will report back next week with discussion and questions for chapters 3 and 4!
This week’s discussion questions:
– The author states that “a messy room equals a messy mind.” How do you feel before, and then after, cleaning? Do you see a correlation between the tidiness of your space and your sense of well-being?
– In chapter two, KonMari instructs us to “visualize our destination.” What kind of life do you visualize for yourself?
– In chapter two, the author moves on to discuss the emotional value of our belongings. What category holds the most emotional value for you? Why?
– Can you relate at all to “K”, the client mentioned in chapter two? Do you find yourself holding on to items out of guilt?