I’m going to say right off the bat that I have never read Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. I read some reviews on it and a summary of it a few years ago and felt like I got the gist. The concept of keeping only what you love (or what “sparks joy”) isn’t a new one, so I didn’t purchase the book.
I have, though, started watching the new series on Netflix, Tidying Up and decided to throw in my two cents on it.
First of all, Marie is so endearing. She is kind and never shows a judgemental face when she’s nose-to-nose with mountains of stuff. She is gracious to her clients and that’s heart-warming to watch, especially in an age where nasty judges and show hosts have a high entertainment value.
I also like how the guests on the show are very realistic and relatable with varying degrees of issues with stuff. For some, it’s just typical clutter that has gotten out of control and for others, there are some moderate hoarding tendencies. As far as what is shown on camera, Marie gives the clients a point in the right direction with assigned tasks and then lets them do the work. It would be nice to see her in action more, but I can see how it’s beneficial for the clients to work through their belongings and hopefully avoid letting it get out of hand in the future.
This also means the before and afters are realistic. They aren’t styled to perfection to emulate an aisle at The Container Store. They look much more like a normal room that was cluttered and now it’s tidy. It makes you feel like it’s doable.
I agree with Marie’s method of sorting to a point. She encourages gathering all items from one category into one place to sort through. I definitely do that with the contents of a closet, dresser, wardrobe, etc. But, I don’t feel the need to gather all of the books from around my entire house to sort through them when I know that the majority of the books are in the room where we use them. (For example – cookbooks in the kitchen, art books in the studio, decorating books in my office, etc.) I can sort through all of the cookbooks without bringing other book categories into the mix. I can see how this would be valuable, though, for certain people and for certain objects. If I’m ever cleaning out my ironstone collection, I would have to gather pieces from all over the house to really see what I have.
The thing I love most about her method, though, is how she puts the emphasis on gratitude. She does it in a way that is different than I would, but whether you’re taking a moment to pray or meditate, I can see value in sitting on your knees in your home and having a quiet moment with it. These are the four walls that currently contain your life and maybe you haven’t been a good steward of it or you haven’t taken the time to reflect on it with a grateful heart. Maybe you’ve been complaining about all that the house doesn’t have and you’ve missed everything it does have. (There are times when I have been so guilty of that!)
And I agree wholeheartedly that you should only keep what you love or, as Marie puts it, what “sparks joy”. Now, of course, there are things that you simply need and you feel neutral about them, but the things we need aren’t usually the things that get out of hand.
I would take the qualification to keep only what sparks joy even a step further, though, and make sure you actually use the things you love. You can still have a house packed floor to ceiling with things you love, but there is so much stuff that you can’t possibly use it all. You have to interact with the items in order to experience the joy from them, so I would use caution with basing the keep/toss decision solely on emotions.
My rules are…
I have to love it or need it
I have to have the perfect place for it
I have to actually use it
If I love it, but don’t have the perfect place for it, I need to let it go. If I love it, but I don’t use it, I need to let it go.
There are, of course, exceptions to this with some mementos and family pieces. For example, I have a top hat that my great, great grandfather wore on his wedding day in a box in my closet. I don’t interact with it, but it does bring me joy to have it and I’m not about to let it go. On the flip side, I might love a lipstick color, but if I never wear it, it’s time to pitch it.
I also love the idea of being thankful for all of your things, even the things you’re getting rid of. If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you know I’m not too attached to stuff. As someone who bought and sold things I love as a large part of my business for many years, I’ve learned that it’s okay to let things go. There is even a kind of liberty in it.
But, I can take this euphoria felt when getting rid of things a little too far and neglect to take a moment to recognize the value that item has or maybe had in the past. So, as I’m focusing on contentment this year, this is a great approach to take as I’m working through some cleaning and purging projects.
Have you read the book or watched the show? Do you live by her method? What tips and tricks have helped you with cleaning, purging, and organizing?
If you’d like some more encouragement and inspiration while you’re tackling your own organization projects, you can check out these links below…