So I finally got around to reading Marie Kondo’s The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up.
I thought I had already read enough decluttering and minimalism books, that there was nothing about getting rid of things that I had yet to learn. But actually, it kind of blew my mind.
In the past, the question that I asked of things before when deciding whether or not to keep them was “Is this useful?” Marie Kondo completely turns in this on it’s head. To her, it doesn’t matter if something is useful or not, the question you should ask is “Does this spark joy?”
At first, this question doesn’t make so much sense. But having done the process I can understand why it is much more effective at keeping clutter away for good.
There are a few problems with making a decision about things based on their utility:
- You end up a little bored with your wardrobe. Asking if you need things make you keep the black pencil skirts, the skinny jeans but not any of the fun stuff. Yes, I want to have a useful capsule wardrobe but I also want clothes that inspire me and make getting dressed fun.
- You end up keeping things our of fear that you might one day need them. Fear has no place in your home, end of.
- You end up with a lot of practical items (presents, hand-me-downs) that you haven’t chosen.
- This might sound ungrateful but for me, this contributed to a feeling about being trapped by things that I never had any say over.
When you only keep things that bring you joy, there is no guilt, there are no dull practical items that you’re only keeping because you think you might one day need them, there is just joy.
But by far the most important thing about the KonMari method is that you must touch every single item in your home, and ask if it brings you joy. You must consciously decide whether to keep or discard everything that you own. For someone whose own feelings of anxiety and powerlessness happen when I avoid making decisions about my life, this was super challenging but oh so worth it.
Now I have chosen everything that I have in my life. The short term guilt that I felt when giving away presents that I never wanted has been far outweighed by the freedom I’ve gained my taking back control of my possessions. It is my stuff, it is my life and I am in control.
How empowering is that?