The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up By Marie kondo

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A few years ago when Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, came out, my very organized, neat, young neighbor decided it was a book I needed to own. I read it at the time, and I was bemused by the author’s dedication to tidying up.

Because I’d read the book, I was curious about the Netflix series featuring Marie Condo. Watching her in action, I got a far better understanding of the meaning she places in the act of sorting one’s belongings. I went back and reread the book. With a picture in my mind of both Kondo and her work, I processed the book much differently the second time. Kondo says that her method is partly inspired by the Shinto religion. Cleaning and organizing things properly can be a spiritual practice in Shintoism. All things have a spirit that must be honored.

The producers of goods in our consumer culture preach “more is better.”  The idea that each and every belonging should be touched, reflected upon, and either thanked or relinquished is both counter-cultural and daunting. We are surrounded by so much. Accumulation is largely unplanned and often happens unconsciously. I loved the possibility of only having things around me that are useful and/or give me joy. Memories don’t have to reside in things that I never even look at anymore. There are many ways to hold life dear. Following her method precisely is something I’ll never accomplish, but, as I go through my belongings in preparation for a move to a one-floor cottage in a retirement village, her ideas give a different meaning to what might have been a far more difficult task. With mindfulness, I can try to open myself to new ways to part with things gratefully, enjoy all that I have, and grow in the process.  If I find a bit of the joy that Marie Kondo finds in tidying up, I will be thankful.

5 comments on “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up By Marie kondo”

  1. Barbara, this woman and her thoughts seem to be everywhere so I am grateful to hear of the experience of reading her book. I find this idea that having only things that are useful or give one joy to be very enticing. I am not much of an accumulator and still I have way too much. I am going to ruminate on this. Thanks!

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  2. Barbara, may you have the best possible moving experience. I read Marie Kondo back when the first book came out, and passed it along to my spousal unit. He read and he tidied his things. I read and took it under consideration. Both of us agree that we will not lovingly roll up our socks. 🙂

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  3. I too read Marie Kondo’s book years ago and watched the series. As a student of religion it was impossible not to see the mark of Shintoism all over this practice. It was particularly interesting to see the way that the Netflix producers had sidestepped the issue in the television series by pointedly not explaining this as a religious practice that I believe would have had a significant negative impact in Kondos following particularly amongst the staunch Christian set. It is unfortunate however, personally the idea that physical possessions have spirits and that there is an appropriate way to treat energy and equally a way to mistreat possessions that goes beyond physically damaging them.
    As someone who detests shopping my decluttering efforts usually come to a screaching halt once I realise if I throw anything else out I will in fact have nothing to wear (I am down to 6 pairs of functional but not necessarily desirable underpants). My challenge with Kondo’s method is that I actually need to purchase more, so I keep my house partially full of things I do not actually want but for the most part need in one way or another that derails me from parting with some of the things that I infact do not want or need. Thus I continue to remove items that do not spark joy whenever the realisation strikes that the item I am now holding or observing does not serve a purpose or function and indeed it does not spark joy.

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    1. Your comment on how Kondo’s method impacted you motivated me to reflect more deeply, and your sense of humor made me smile! I wish that what I need and what brings me joy were synonymous, but I am not always in touch with the truth of what I really need or when the relationships and belongings in my life are truly serving my true needs. Sometimes what I want is only a shallow substitute for what I really need and long for. I am going to challenge myself to become more aware of wants v.s. needs. It will require both more attention and intention. Hopefully this challenge will open me up to a deeper sense of joy. Like you, I think Kondo’s method is more complex than a superficial reading/Netflix “reality show” might suggest. You are right; her approach sparks criticism in some Christians. There is a very thoughtful article in Sojourners (https://sojo.net/articles/respecting-spirituality-behind-marie-kondos-tidying), a progressive evangelical magazine. The article is both educational concerning Shintoism and deals with the Christian critique aimed at Marie Kondo and her method. Not all Christians think alike–thank goodness.

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