I am a minimalist. My husband, on the other hand, is a maximumist (no, it’s not a word, but you get the point.) So that’s why I totally did not tell him I borrowed the audiobook, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” from the library and binge-listened — and then started it again.
This is not a sponsored post, and I doubt the author, Marie Kondo, even needs the extra attention. Her book is an international bestseller. The Economist gives a clue to why it might be so popular: It “shows dissatisfaction with the growing chasm between two pillars of modern living: materialism and efficiency.” We feel bogged down by our possessions. After having my second child and working my rear off to rebuild my family life, I desperately wanted to give it a go.
In its simplest form, the program goes like this: Gather all your possessions into one room, starting with all your clothes. Pick up each article of clothing individually, including socks, underwear, etc., and ask yourself out loud, “Does this spark joy?” and “Does this fill an immediate need?” If the answer to both questions is “no,” you are to discard that item. When employed honestly, this system of working through all your stuff by category will leave a lot of your things in garbage bags, ready to be taken to the nearest donation center. And it feels UH-MAZING.
Maybe you aren’t like me and don’t relish the thought of living that minimalist IKEA life. But I think we all can agree that we love having a clean house. One advantage to this way of life, for me, is that the less I have, the less I have to clean. My things all have a place where they belong, so it’s easy to put them away.
The biggest benefit, though, comes from the mental side of this exercise. It forces you to reflect on what you want out of life; do your possessions help or hinder you in that quest? I let out a sigh of relief every time I realize that nearly all my possessions are things I love. No more subconsciously feeling guilty that I never use that perfume my mom bought me. I use my other perfumes so much more now that they aren’t all hidden behind each other. Kondo also suggests you treat your belongings as if they have feelings. I LOVE THIS. It seems silly, but thanking each piece of clothing for its service before I put it in the donate bag helped me to find closure about chapters of my life that needed closure. I could let things go knowing they had served their purpose. Goodbye, high school choir T-shirts — it was fun while it lasted.
This idea of letting things go — things from your past, dingy things, things with the tags still on, things that will never be used but “might come in handy some day” — has given me the ability to think clearly and appreciate who I am and what I have, and it’s inspired me to keep the house cleaner than it had been in a long time. Even my husband recognized my change of heart and asked several times if I’m “nesting.” Nope, I just have more energy and optimism. It’s a miracle. I’m evaluating my possessions and my decisions.
The great thing is that you don’t have to do this for every other person in your family to enjoy the benefits of decluttering. My mind rests well knowing that my things are in order, and it gives me the bandwidth to deal with everyone else’s chaos during the week. It “allows me to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”