Book Review: “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo

It’s May and it’s hot in Bangkok.  Thailand broke an all new record for electricity use the other day.  My thermometer reads 36 degrees celsius but yahoo weather says it feels like 45 degrees.  I agree.  There’s not much I feel like doing in this heat except stay indoors, out of the heat and with a good book.

The other day I picked up “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo and it has gotten me on a purging spree.   For the last few years I’ve been trying to clean up my stuff, donate things to charity, but still there seems to be a never ending pile of clutter around the house.  I dream that my house would be minimal like that of a hotel room with only the bare necessities. When I travel, I seem to be able to cope well with just the stuff I have in my suitcase, but when I’m home it seems to be another matter.  Sometimes I feel like I want to just throw everything away, but in the end, I never can.

I succumb to thoughts of guilt and talk myself out of throwing away things in perfectly good condition and function.  I downgrade old t-shirts and pants to “stay at home” clothes and end up with a large pile of stay at home clothes which are not comfortable.  My shelves are filled with books both at my house and at my parent’s house. I have almost all the books I’ve bought since I can remember, even those penguin classics since first grade.  I have handwritten letters in shoeboxes from years ago when we didn’t have email and the only way we kept touch with friends was by writing letters.  With books, I’ve been getting better and sharing the joy of reading with friends, but still, I feel overwhelmed with all the clutter.

Then I picked up this book and she makes you feel better about purging things.

Kondo as a whole “Kon Mari” method to throwing things away by categories and concept on how to fold clothes, but what I love most about the book is the psychology behind it.  She eases your guilt about throwing things away.

She says to keep only the things that “spark joy.”  If it no longer sparks joy, then it no longer needs to be with you.  For things that once gave you happiness and now have passed their use, you can thank them for the pleasure it once gave you.   If you have books and things you saved up to one day  read and use, but have not yet gotten to them, then you most likely will not have the time to get to it. Out it goes. If you have folders and folders of old seminar notes that you hardly refer to anymore, toss it out.  Everything you learnt, should be in your head already.

Decluttering your environment also declutters your mind and soul.  I haven’t done the entire house in one go yet as she suggests, as I may need a whole week off (or maybe two if you count my stuff at my parents house)  but just two days and I am already seeing results.  I have more closet space and my study feels lighter.  I need less furniture. I don’t need to buy anymore storage.  I feel great.  I could keep doing this all day.  Alex has to tell me to stop and rest.

I wonder why I keep so much junk. I  tell myself,  “Live simply. Accumulate experiences, don’t accumulate ‘things.’

Happy cleaning my dear friends.   Oh, the book is pretty light reading and can be finished in one afternoon., But if you don’t want to read, she’s on youtube too.

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