“THE BEST WAY TO FIND OUT WHAT WE REALLY NEED IS TO GET RID OF WHAT WE DON’T.” —MARIE KONDO
While some people are born with a natural capacity to be tidy, I came into this world accepting that life is messy. In fact, I did not learn the value of organizing until I was well into adulthood. I have a tendency to move rather quickly through life, and messes can sometimes follow in my wake.
My older sister inherited the tidiness gene; she used to reorganize my backpack and binder before and after school. After she was done with my backpack, she would move on to my desk. While I walked around like a small absent-minded professor, with papers spewing out of my backpack and unbrushed hair, she made sure everything was just so.
To this day, she is one of those mothers who, despite having two small children, gets through mealtimes and painting activities without any evidence left on her outfit. Given the same scenario, my outfit looks like it has become the canvas—food and paint stains abound.
While I may not have the tidiness gene, I have learned (through much effort) the art of decluttering and tidying. I find tidy spaces put my mind at ease. And for a personality like mine—one that tends to head out grocery shopping wearing my child’s food on my shirt—having few possessions and less clutter is all the more important.
I find decluttering to be a spiritual practice. At the very least, tidying clears my head. I agree with Marie Kondo when she says, “The inside of a house or apartment after decluttering has much in common with a Shinto shrine… a place where there are no unnecessary things, and our thoughts become clear.”
Marie Kondo’s simple and beautiful method of tidying shared in her bestselling book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up is grounded in the age-old wisdom that your outer space tends to reflect your inner space. Her work has been celebrated by millions of people who are carving out a new culture of simplifying amongst a dominant paradigm of excess. This powerful movement is rooted in the importance of valuing the planet’s precious (limited) resources, living within our means, and buying fewer material goods. Spending less time buying things frees up time for relationships and personal growth.
Decluttering benefits anyone in charge of creating and cleaning a home regardless of your natural disposition toward organization. After all, when we take the time to choose which possessions are worth keeping and let go of the rest, we have fewer things to sort and clean. This benefits the health of everyone who spends time inside our homes—a clean, organized home collects less dust and the air will be easier to breathe. Plus there is a light, creative energy that is palpable in a tidy home.
If you are ready to do some spring tidying and cleaning, but don’t have time to read Marie Kondo’s books, it may be helpful to start with a couple key principles.
3 Key Principles from Marie Kondo’s books to get you started:
• Consider each and every possession you own— from clothing to your junk drawer— and ask yourself if the item sparks joy. If joy is there, keep it. If there is no joy, thank the item for being a part of your life so far and let it go (donate, recycle, or discard). Notice the different experiences of joy: Some items spark joy because they are beautiful (art decorating your wall), while others spark a different sort of joy because they are useful, like a hammer.
• Find a place where everything you own will live. When there is clutter, return your items to their place.
• When you live with other people, only take responsibility for your own possessions. You may inspire the rest of your household to join you, but do not force your new approach to tidiness on your roommates or partners.
It’s a simple approach with profound benefits. As you enter into the lightness of spring, consider creating a home space that reflects the internal version of you you’d most like to share.