The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The KonMarie Method of Decluttering and Organizing

Unless you've been living under a rock, you've heard about this book:

Several moms in my holistic mom's group on FB were singing the praises of the KonMarie method, but I was hesitant to try it out. Why? Well, when I saw their pictures of how much stuff they were getting rid of and the particular way they folded their clothes, I was turned off. I dismissed the method as a one-size-fits-all guilt trip and I hate that.

It wasn't until some months had passed and a woman at my book club was raving about it that I realized I may have judged incorrectly and decided that I should probably at least read the book before criticizing it. Groundbreaking logic, I know.

Let me just say, I see why she has so many fans! I get it now. I really do.

Marie Kondo is a Buddhist and her book is very spiritual. I think this is an element that's missing in so many other cleaning or organizing methods.
"When you put your house in order you put your affairs and your past in order, too."

In addition, she gets underneath the problem and helps us understand why we struggle to maintain order in our homes.

And why do we struggle so much?

  • Because most of us were never taught how to clean and organize. Either we weren't taught how to do it at all, or we were taught that it's just a part of life and that it needs to be done all the time.

  • We focus more on storing what we have instead of paring down our belongings and then organizing what's left.

  • We are usually trained to purge based solely on practicality and not Marie Kondo's method of only keeping what truly makes us happy.

  • We tend to start tidying difficult-to-decide items instead of easy items. Kondo recommends purging in a specific order. Photos and memorabilia are left for dead last.

  • We like to focus more on other people's junk than our own. She suggests not touching or talking about the clutter of your family members until you have gone through all of your own things first. It's not fair to expect them to purge and organize if you aren't willing to do it, too. She's found time and time again that once one person in the family starts "tidying up" the others naturally follow suit.

The KonMarie method really intrigued me because you aren't asking "How long has it been since I've used this?" Instead, you are only keeping items that spark joy. I love this part because it means that each individual decides what's right for them. At the end of the program, one person may still have several of one thing but very few of another. It really is about surrounding yourself with only the things that spark joy for you.
"Keep only those things that speak to your heart. Then take the plunge and discard all the rest."


She then jumps into more detail of how to actually go about purging items and organizing. Some of her methods seem silly, but she explains why she recommends what she does.


  • Because of her Buddhist religion she recommends greeting your house and saying goodbye and thanking your belongings. As a Christian, I don't believe my home and belongings have a spirit or soul. I can see how performing these little ceremonies would impact a person on a psychological level by helping me become more aware of my house and what I'm bringing into it and by helping me let go of unnecessary and unwanted items.

There's more of the same sprinkled throughout the book. Just something to be aware of if you're thinking about recommending it to others.

  • Marie Kondo is a single woman with no children. 'Nuff said.

  • She lives in a typical Japanese home which is very small. As an American in a large home I definitely felt like I have a little more leeway. For instance, she recommends immediately discarding the boxes that electronics come in. In a very small city home I can see where that is a good idea. For us, having more storage, it makes sense to keep those boxes because Ben does frequently sell things on Criagslist and having the original boxes and manuals makes for a better sale.

So what's so "life-changing" and "magical" about tidying up?
"To truly cherish the things that are important to you, you must first discard those that have outlived their purpose."

"At their core, the things we really like do not change over time. Putting your house in order is a great way to discover what they are."

"The question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life."

And finally:
"Human beings can only truly cherish a limited number of things at one time....That is why I want to cherish properly the things I love, and that is why I have insisted on tidying for so much of my life. I believe, however, that it is best to tidy up quickly and get it over with. Why? Because tidying is not the purpose of life.....As for you, pour your time and passion into what brings you the most joy, your mission in life."

We've had a crazy week with Luke's rehearsals and performances so I've only scratched the surface, but I'll be posting soon with my results!


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