Tidying Inside and Out

A few months ago, my fourteen-year old daughter watched a documentary called Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things which highlighted the benefits of living a simpler life. Intrigued by the idea, she began researching the topic and soon discovered Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Kondo believes that through the process of tidying we can change our entire lives. Tidying enables us to examine every item in our possession to determine whether each item is useful or whether it sparks joy for us. If it does neither of those things, then that item can be released and given away. Once this process is complete, Kondo believes we will not only have a tidier space, but tidier lives as well. 

After reading Kondo’s book, my daughter was inspired to take action. Over the next few months, she sorted through everything she owned. She gave away hundreds of items, claiming that each time she gave something away it made her feel more joyful and more free. When she was finally finished, she felt like a changed person and encouraged our family to give tidying a try. After watching the documentary and reading Kondo’s book, I too was inspired to begin the tidying process. As Kondo recommends, I began by placing every item of clothing on my bed: socks, underwear, shirts, pants, belts. My king-size bed was covered with my clothes — I could not believe all the items that I owned. I was embarrassed. Immediately, I examined each item, selecting only the things that I needed or the things that sparked joy for me. I gave away the rest. Large garbage bags filled with clothing went to Goodwill. The more I gave away, the lighter and freer I felt. 

Once I finished my clothes, I went on to other items in my house, feeling more joy as I continued. After a couple of weeks, I had examined nearly every possession and was then ready to tackle the last category: sentimental items. I knew this category would be the most challenging because I’ve always had a strong sentimental attachment to things. But I was determined to give it a try. As I began sorting through my high school memorabilia, I was struck by the realization that so much of what I had kept represented a person that I used to be. Although many of the items brought back fond memories, some of them had the opposite effect. By examining every sentimental item and determining whether it sparked joy for me, I was forced to deal with my past and let go of old emotions. Tidying helped me look back on the person I had been and think about the person I had become.  It helped me decide what items from my past I wanted to take into my future and what parts I knew it was time to leave behind. As Kondo states, “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.” Tidying helped me face my past, so I could find real joy once again.

This week, consider the benefits of tidying in your own life. The questions below will help get you started:

    1. What are some of the things you love about your home? Are there any areas that could use some de-cluttering? What areas are those?
    2. Marie Kondo states, “The question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life.” What do you think she means by this?
    3. Are you someone who holds onto items or beliefs or emotions from your past? If so, how could this be holding you back from the present? 
    4. Marie Kondo also states, “No matter how wonderful things used to be, we cannot live in the past. The joy and excitement we feel here and now are more important.” What are your thoughts on this idea?
    5. By tidying up your space, it can help tidy up your life. How is this possible? How can tidying help you feel more free?
    6. In the next few weeks, what areas of your house or your life might you plan to tidy up?

Tidying can change the space you live in, but it can also help you discover your feelings about the past, present, and future. Take some time to tidy and feel the freedom that it brings. Keep what sparks joy and notice the difference it makes in your life. Be surrounded with the things you love and see how much freer you feel. As Kondo believes, “The space in which we live should be for the person we are becoming now, not for the person we were in the past.” 

Also, be sure to check out Marie Kondo’s new show on Netflix. It shows first-hand the powerful impact tidying can have in our lives. Good luck and happy tidying!

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