Book Review: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing

“When you come across something that you cannot part with, think carefully about its true purpose in your life. You’ll be surprised at how many of the things you possess have already fulfilled their role. By acknowledging their contribution and letting them go with gratitude, you will be able to truly put the things you own, and your life, in order. In the end, all that will remain are the things that you really treasure. To truly cherish the things that are important to you, you must first discard those that have outlived their purpose.” 
― Marie KondoThe Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing


I know I said short book reviews and I assure you this will be the longest you’ll ever see. This one simply has a story behind it…

I almost feel like everyone and their mother has heard at least something about this book at this point. As for me, I started my (extreme) decluttering journey last December.

I’ve pretty much always equated clutter to chaos in my life and have never been much of a fan of either.

For sometime now, I’ve held the notion that our things have energy and this energy affects us—one way or another.  We expend energy owning our stuff and/or lugging it around. And there’s a cost of ownership.

Over the past decade I’ve lost a handful of immediate family members. I ended up being the one to clean out the contents of their homes (and lives) after they died. I guess once you go through this it sort of makes you ask yourself what is important and what isn’t in terms of what we own—but more importantly  you realize how your loved ones will likely feel when it comes time to do the same for you.  It’s tough dismantling a persons life and the contents they held dear. Incredibly tough.

Still, for all of my impracticalities I can actually be somewhat practical. So, admittedly, when I picked up a book whose premise (I had heard) was basically: if you don’t love it (and by that I mean hard love) and it doesn’t bring you joy—it has to go… I wound up in hands on hips, can’t catch my breath, wait a minute… she’s saying what mode.

Thankfully though, I appreciate a good challenge and so I read the book. It didn’t take long to realize that the author’s philosophies made complete sense. And thus began the remodel. This was a whole other life changing and revelatory process. One, however, that worked its magic.

For a very long time I wanted a bigger house. I thought this was part of the answer to my life’s problems. Too many people in too small a space. Now, having raised two of my children into adulthood I understand the immense value of having had a smaller home. It forced us to be closer than we would’ve been otherwise. For better or worse at times—but overall I believe better.

If only I’d understood living and the art of decluttering in the way that Ms. Kondo describes in her book— it surely would have saved me a lot of guilt over the years about getting rid of things and my leanings toward minimalism.

One of life’s greatest and most difficult lessons for me has been knowing when to hang on and when to let go. I found this book and the process of doing the work incredibly cathartic— and as she states in the title, life-changing.

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