Two weeks ago I talked about this book, "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up" by Marie Kondo. Last week I finished the book and began my own "tidying festival", or as I like to call it, "sparking joy." Kondo claims in her book that people who use her method never go back to living a cluttered lifestyle, and after trying it out for a week, I can totally understand why.
My joyful dresser. I could not even see the top of it when I started this process.
First, you only keep those items that spark joy. This is what makes this process so much fun. Rather than trying to figure out what you need to get rid of, you're focusing on what makes you happy (either because you love it or it serves a necessary purpose in your life) and what you are choosing to keep. This means that decluttering feels a lot like a treasure hunt, and it makes it very easy to toss a LOT of things, because once you start focusing on that feeling of joy, it is obvious what doesn't bring that feeling, and you immediately lose any sense of attachment to those joy-less items. If it's not bringing you joy, it's not fulfilling its purpose in your life and you are doing it (and yourself) a favor by letting it move on.
You are in a relationship with everything you own, and like any relationship, if that relationship isn't fulfilling you and making you happy, you need to let it go.
A relationship, you say? Yes. Which brings me to my next point.
You begin to see your possessions as sentient beings. Okay, this one sounds weird. I get that you think I'm strolling into the land of crazy here, but bear with me. Kondo encourages you to talk to your items and consider their feelings (I KNOW just bear with me!) and it's amazing how much that changes how you treat them, and how easy it is to discard those items that don't bring you joy.
I was helping my son spark some joy in his room and he has a huge collection of stuffed animals. We decided to go through those first, and when I told him we were going to, he started to panic. "But I love ALL of them!" I wasn't sure how far we would get. But as he took each one and held it in his hands, I could clearly see on his face which really sparked joy and which didn't, and he could tell too. Once he picked one up and said, "Well...I kind of like this one. And I paid a dollar for it. I don't want my dollar to be wasted." I said, "Did it make you happy to buy it and bring it home?" He said, "Yes." I said, "Then it wasn't a wasted dollar at all. That dollar brought you several moments of happiness. Now this toy doesn't bring you happiness anymore, so it's time to let it go." He hugged and kissed each one and told it he hoped it would find someone else who would love it more than he did.
There were other times when he was on the fence and I reminded him that it's not fair for a stuffed animal to be in a home where it's not played with and not loved. That realization made it easier for him to let those toys go.
By the time we were done, we had filled an entire garbage bag with stuffed animals that were ready for new homes.
For another example, this week I went grocery shopping. Usually when I shop, I bring the groceries inside and I put the bags down and I'll put away the frozen and refrigerated stuff and then take a break. By the end of the day everything is usually put away. I'll stuff my reusable shopping bags into one bag and go toss it in my coat closet in the foyer. This week, however, I brought the groceries in and as I emptied bags, I thanked them for helping me carry everything. I couldn't very well stuff them into a bag after expressing such gratitude to them, could I? I found myself carefully folding them and placing them into one bag in an organized fashion.
Then I saw all the food I had unloaded. I welcomed it into my home, and you know, when you have guests (even if it is a can of peaches) it's not very polite to just make them sit around until you get around to showing them where they'll be staying, right? It seemed wrong to just have stuff sitting in limbo on my kitchen table, so I immediately put the groceries onto the shelves where they would be until I used them. If the shelves were crowded, rather than just stuff things in, I cleared things out and made some room. Who wants to be shoved in a tight, cramped space?
One more example: I was doing the laundry the other day and pouring the laundry detergent into the machine. As I did, I noticed an empty bottle of detergent sitting out that I'd never thrown away. I glanced down at the mostly full bottle I was using and I felt a pang of guilt about that empty bottle. I mean, he's just sitting there, completely useless, while this other bottle is happily being used right in front of him. That's almost cruel! I knew I had to throw him away, so I went to put him in the trash can- but that was stuffed full. Well, that can't be comfortable for that trash can, I thought. So I quickly emptied it, putting the empty detergent bottle in as well (I could feel his relief at being put out of his misery) and took it out to the curb.
So you can see, I'm not thinking of cleaning up as a chore anymore- it's just happening naturally (okay, it's a little unnatural, I know) with this mindset. When you give human feelings to objects you start to want to give them the space and respect that comes with being organized and tidy.
Expressing gratitude makes you a happier person. This is just a proven fact. Grateful people are happier people. When you spend all day thanking everything around you for the job it does in your life, you just get happier, and you feel lighter (not to mention the fact that now you have way less stuff and that feels awesome too). You can walk around your home and see nothing but things that make you happy, and you fully appreciate those things for their roles in your everyday life. When you come home you say, "Hello, house! I'm home!" Then you hang up your jacket and thank it for keeping you warm and dry. You put your purse away and thank it for helping you carry your stuff around all day. You empty your dishwasher and thank it for doing its job for you, washing all those dishes. Yes, it sounds a little crazy. But doesn't it also sound just so happy?
Well, that's how this book is changing my life. If you see me talking to my purse, now you'll know why.
P.S. Thank you, computer, for helping me to write and publish this post! You're awesome! xoxo