Spring time means spring cleaning! Everywhere you look lately, “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo pops up. It’s been out for a little over 2 years now and still ranks in the Top 30 best sellers on Amazon. It was THE number one selling book on Amazon for quite a while, and no not just books on home organization or self help but number one best seller for the entire book category. Pinterest is on fire with Marie Kondo inspired checklists and tutorials. Bloggers are filling their posts with their own experiences with the method. I first came across the book on a friend’s blog and it wasn’t until after I’d read it and started googling more, that I realized this book was even a thing.
Parts of the book are a little eye-rolly…an 11 year old tearing through home organization magazines just didn’t sound believable, even to my 11 year old dork self. Tales of people hoarding 200 toothbrushes and 50 million rolls of toilet paper left me with more questions than answers. My friend Alejandra and I both had similar moments of “oh yaaaa right…” followed immediately by a text to the other to discuss.
Despite the random “no way” moments, a lot of Kondo’s book was really valuable. Initially, I thought Kondo’s book would help with my minimalist/OCD/own nothing/organization habits and be especially useful with the massive wardrobe curation project I’ve got going on. And while it was totally eye opening to lay out every book I own in one place at one time, to be honest, the biggest take-aways didn’t really have much to do with stuff and were more about why we keep stuff and how we feel about our stuff.
Kondo’s thoughts on gifts were particularly freeing. She encourages clients to think of gifts not as physical items but as expressions of affection from the gifter. The original intent of the gift was the expression of affection. That purpose served, you’re free to acknowledge the affections had been expressed and move on from the gift. Glory, hallelujah! This little gem saved me from loads of guilt and lots of freedom from things I’d been hanging onto for years only because they were gifts. Some of the “gifts” were even broken and I was still hanging onto them! It also brought a fresh perspective to receiving or opening an unusual gift. Rather than focusing on the item, it’s better to focus on the intent behind the gift. Maybe that blender for Christmas wasn’t the perfect gift, but the love expressed by the gift totally was.
The other really powerful tool from Kondo’s book was the thankful acknowledgement and letting go of items. Rather than dumping things into a bag mindlessly or negatively “this is broken”, “this sucks”, “I hate this”, Kondo has clients thank each object for whatever it did for them. “Thank you for keeping me warm”. “Thank you for teaching me I do not actually like this style”. This subtle mindshift from negative to positive turned the entire experience into a lovefest. Rather than getting aggravated or overwhelmed while going through clothes or books, I was happy and relaxed. It felt good to thank each item and move it on to its next home. The wastefulness guilt and “what if I need it” hoarding mentality that usually damns up a good downsizing were nowhere to be found.
The mindset business really put a lot of my stuff into perspective. Rather than wishing I had something else or living with minor annoyances all the time, I’ve spent a lot of time fixing things I already have or replacing others that just weren’t right and never would be. I’ve started focusing on finding the right item and thinking long term instead of just going with things that will do right now. I’ve started taking better care of the things that bring me joy and completing projects that have been sitting in the closet for ages.
The biggest impact on daily life has been adding the “thank you home” ritual to my day. Rather than walking into a room and analyzing what has to be done, what’s missing, what’s wrong with the room, what could be improved or changed, I’ve started taking little those assessment moments to thank my home for being there, for being a safe loving place for my family to come home to.
Even if you don’t buy into anything else in the book, practicing gratitude for what you have is a total game changer. Give it a try and let me know how it goes.