On the weekend I finished reading “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up”.
I’ve come to terms with the fact that I’m often late to the party with a lot of these trendy books – but you see, at the moment I’ve been reading a bunch of literature on feminism, the changing role of women and men in the work place, and all that sort of thing – so sometimes my “To Read” list is just too big to include books about… um… tidying up!
Picture from Amazon.com
Anyhoo, as mentioned over the weekend I was taking a break from my normal trend of “equity in the workplace will only ever be achieved with equity in the home-place” type phrasing and read a book about tidying up. I was really surprised at how I took to it.
In her book, Marie Kondo talks about how she has been somewhat obsessed with the need to tidy and clean since she was a small child. The way she describes her passion for the “art” in many ways comes across as resembling a disorder… but then I think back to this documentary and reconsider.
Perhaps this level of passion for what many may consider a simple pursuit, is actually a way to achieve the pride, success and happiness that many of us crave in our office jobs?
However, I am side tracking. The thing that really resonated with me in this book came down to what I feel was perhaps only a minor undercurrent in Marie Kondo’s analysis… and that is “A tidy home = a tidy mind”.
Marie Kondo speaks in great detail about the two steps of tidying up.
Step 1 – Discarding
Step 2 – Putting things away
She quite rightly points out, many of us have simply have too much stuff. Many of us (and once again I appreciate how lucky I am that I sit in this group of people) have a consumerist lifestyle in which we buy things… in bulk… cheaply… more in fact than we can consume. Far more stuff than we ever needed. Old mobile phones, computer screens, cameras, paperwork, university text books, high school text books, clothing, camping gear we never use, surfing gear from that one time we lived by the coast, the list goes on – our houses are filled with stuff we don’t use anymore and that we hang on to “just in case”.
As Marie Kondo touches on; our lives just like our homes have also become clogged with superfluous stuff. Facebook, email, pinterest, instagram, work email, work itself, extra study, hobbies, friends, family, professional development, our next holiday, the book we are reading, the blogs we follow, the 7 different news sources we check each day, the social commitments – there is so much stuff – our calendars and our minds are over flowing.
Marie Kondo has one rule in which she follows when deciding what to discard from her home. She holds an item in her hands, turns it over, and without the distractions of music, television, other people, and answers a question – “does this item bring me joy?”
If the answer is no, she thanks it, I mean actually says thank you to the item for the role it played in her life and then gets rid of it.
It’s such a simple concept, and I really like it.
And not just for physical items throughout my house (which FYI I have discarded a lot of recently) – but also for… well everything.
How many things do I commit to socially that I really have no interest in?
How many thoughts cross my mind each day that I have harboured for years but rarely taken pleasure from?
How many coffees have I drunk with people who I shared a friendship once bloomed but has now naturally wilted?
How many goals that no longer seem worth chasing do I still workshop?
How many to do lists have I written that items reappear on from the week before, playing over and over like an airport announcement?
I feel like Marie Kondo’s approach to physically tidying ones house could be used as a symbolic way of also tidying our minds. Do these things that I’m turning over in my mind bring me joy? If not – thank that thought for the part played in making me who I am – and then bid it goodbye as I throw it back out into the sea of thoughts that whirs amongst us instead of inside of me.
Once all the joyless things are gone, what is left?
What is left are the things that we truly appreciate.
And along with them a little more space to demonstrate our appreciation, a little more time to invest in them, and a little more patience to show due care when we take them out and put them away again.
What is left of my wardrobe – there’s obviously been a lot of discarding over the last few days! :)