Friday, November 27, 2015

Things I Learned From Marie Kondo's Book: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

I finished listening to the audio version of this book while playing Minecraft a few weeks ago, during my slump (I use this word so much in my blog that it probably belongs in the header somewhere). As lazy and messy as I naturally am, I have always been very interested and excited by the prospect of organizing things. In fact, when I'm not ailed by my seemingly chronic low energy, I do a pretty good job at fixing, tidying, and organizing things. At least I think so, and Beardy would agree! Although he might not be the best judge of that because he normally can't tell the difference unless it's drastic. :o)

One thing I've learned, though, is that you don't get from a normal cluttered hum-drum room or house to one worthy of being in a magazine just by shuttling all your belongings from here to there and chucking them into boxes and cabinets - you actually have to get rid of stuff for your space to truly feel tidy.

But these few things usually trouble me when I attempt to tidy up: 
  1. I have a lot of anxiety about parting with things as I have the tendency to be very sentimental.
  2. I have a lot of guilt about throwing things in the trash because I don't exactly know where everything ends up *insert picture of Smokey Mountain and audio clip of O Fortuna here*
  3. As sort of an effect of #2, I always have SO MANY IDEAS about how to recycle everything!!!
  4. I like displaying cute things around me and sometimes the things pile up and end up hiding less-desirable things behind/under/inside them (I LIKE DECORATIVE CANS AND BOXES :c) and so my things eat up a lot more space than they should.
But boy oh boy did this book help me deal with these feelings! What I really appreciated about this book, apart from the clever and simplified ideas, was that it not only told you what to do (which everyone has their own way of doing things in the end anyway) but how do deal with the feelings that normally come up when we part with things. In fact, the whole philosophy behind this book is centered on how you feel - specifically, about what sparks joy.

It won't ask you to tick boxes of qualifications for a thing to be deemed worthy of keeping. It simply asks you to hold each thing you have and contemplate on whether it sparks joy or not. And if it's something you truly need, but it doesn't exactly spark any joy (for example, if you're a medical student you probably have a buttload of books.. Hi Jess c;), it asks you to contemplate on the importance it has in your life and to appreciate the role it plays, so that you change your mental relationship with it into a positive one. Then it ends up sparking joy, as well.

What it comes down to, basically, is for us to Mindfully Own Things, so that we don't passively accumulate things over time and rather make it so that our belongings change with us, grow with us, and don't weigh us down. In this way, every single thing becomes useful and important, we know where everything is, and we have space to let our minds breathe in our dwellings. Also, it's much easier to re-decorate with less things in the way.

So for my four stumbling blocks, here are the lessons that the book has offered me to overcome them:
  1. Anxiety about parting with things- KonMari confronts us about the real reason why we keep things, and the true purpose of things and how we can part with things once they serve their purpose. She suggests that when we hold on to these things we are weighing ourselves down by holding on to the past and instead encourages us to cherish the present, and our present relationships. An example that really struck me was about how we hold on to gifts or letters out of guilt even when they no longer suit us even though the people who have given them have probably forgotten about them, or holding on to letters from people we've fallen out with, even though they probably don't remember anything about what they wrote and probably don't feel the same way anymore.
  2. Guilt about trash- Well, actually, this book's attitude towards trash probably hinges on a more effective waste disposal system in Japan because the throwing-away part in this book is as simple as just putting them in trash bags and promptly taking them outside before anyone who'd want to dig through it in your family could see. Although, the whole part about the true purpose of things has made me ready to part with much more things than I normally would be, especially when they could do better if given away, or even, yes, ending up where the trash goes - because they're valuable as picking items (This sounds really problematic because it's usually kids who do this here in the Philippines. It's a sad reality that I do not condone at all, but it's really the best option for these unusable items :c Feel free to suggest better options, if any.)
  3. Recycling- The book makes a good point that basically goes: "When though? I mean really.." when it uses the example of people keeping reference materials for finished classes under the pretense that they will want to read through it again one day. The reality is that we would likely only want to read through a couple of those things or even forget we even have them, so as for me, I probably would only be able to do some of these recycling projects, and forget about the rest. So I should either get with the crafting soon, or just ditch the project.
  4. My Penchant for Cute Clutter and Sneaky Storage- The book turns the old saying "A place for everything, and everything in its place" into "A purpose for everything, and everything in its place." It asks us to avoid "storage solutions" that actually just give us places to hide things we don't know what to do with. Honestly, this is the hardest part. I have numerous small containers for numerous small things. The situation is especially dire on my desk. The technique of dumping everything in a single pile and sorting every single thing makes it so that there's less chances of me keeping duplicates of things, and I will get to see all of the containers and... maybe get rid of the ones that aren't cute anymore due to rusting or wear and tear. Luckily, KonMari doesn't actually have anything against having decorations, as long as they all, individually spark joy. So that actually wouldn't be so hard.
"Do I find this knick-knack or doodad as cute as Marie Kondo?" If the answer is yes, then I can keep it.
I'm excited and to be honest quite nervous about doing it, because I still am not 100% sure about how to move the things I purge along, and I'm going to face a lot of internal struggling when it comes to things that can still be fixed!

I'm planning to buy a huge sturdy box for the stuff I'm going to donate, and plan out my purge on a free weekend. I'm going to be documenting it, of course! I wonder when though, because I kind of need a huge amount of energy to do this!

PS: Go here for an Illustrated Guide to KonMari style folding. It's really simple, but once you read/listen to the book you'll realise how important that is!

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