The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up (against all odds, the claim is real)

This book makes an epic (and sort of amusing) claim: tidying up will change your life. Author Marie Kondo has built her life around a passion for putting things in order. The book explains a simple two-step process:

  1. get rid of stuff you don’t love
  2. organize the stuff you do love

You may think, why on earth do we need a book to explain this? Well, let me tell you. First of all  you should know I’m critical of “life-improving” non fiction – so often these books could be 1000 word articles.

Not so in this case. Even though Ms. Kondo wanders occasionally, she redeems herself with practical advice and – even better – surprising methaphysical ideas about your stuff, what having too much of the wrong stuff is doing to you, and how thinning and organizing it can inspire you.

When you read this book you are empowered to go through everything you own and actually get rid of it. If you’re paralyzed by fear, she gives you a step by step guide: what to tackle first, how to do it, and gentle reminders on why it’s ok to purge.

She has a great philosophy on greeting cards: their purpose is fulfilled the moment you open and read them. And on your purse or workbag: give it a rest at night. Establish a separate home for your wallet, keys, five lip balms, old receipts (the garbage) etc.

Best of all Ms. Kondo links the process of tidying up to getting empowered and living your authentic life. She asks readers to go through all of their belongings – literally every thing you own – and recognize which ones spark joy and which ones don’t. This practice forces us to acknowledge two things: the magnitude of our belongings and our authentic feelings and desires. The book includes testimonials about clients who Tidied Up (the Marie Kondo way) and were empowered to let go of their pasts once and for all, realize their purpose and passions, ultimately pursue their dreams, and so on.

Reading this book enlightened me as to my own tendencies in holding on to things (far from a hoarder, but room for improvement). I cleaned out all of my closets, purged old shoes and bedding, books, clothes, kitchen gadgets. Things that didn’t spark joy have gone to a better place (the Salvation Army) and I feel lighter and calmer. In this crazy world, possessions demand discipline. If that sparks joy for you, read the book.

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