LET IT GO
Anyone who has a living space of their very own needs to pick things up from time to time.
But Marie Kondo is one of those few people can say they’ve actually become a global tidying expert.
In her bestseller, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, she describes her lifelong obsession with processing the piles and piles of “stuff” that typically accumulate in a middle class home.
She got an early start.
While her fellow students in elementary school were on the playground, she would sneak back into the classroom to straighten things up.
By the time she was a teenager, she had devoured every publication she could find on how to live an uncluttered life.
She quickly recognized that tidying is a two-part process: discarding whatever needs to go, then appropriately storing whatever remains.
It was the “letting go” part that proved to be the more challenging.
Years went by before she was struck by an important insight. “I realized my mistake: I was only looking for things to throw out. What I should be doing is finding the things I want to keep. Identifying the things that make you happy: that is the work of tidying.”
That’s why her KonMari Method (yes, that’s her own name, backwards) is centered on a single important act:
Gently take hold of any object (perhaps a book, a knickknack, or a pair of shoes) and ask, “Does this spark joy in my heart?”
If it does, hang on to it. If not, offer a word of thanks: “Thank you for having been part of my life.”
Then take that huge step: let it go.
Kondo is certain that once her readers begin this practice, they will feel the incredible relief of decluttering their lives of all the things that they think they will need in order to survive, or think they may end up using one day – but almost certainly never will.
In fact, she believes that most of the stuff we finally have the courage to release will never cross our minds again.
On average, her professional clients – those whose homes she helps tidy up – get rid of an astonishing 50-75% of what they own. The simply didn’t need those things – something they didn’t realize until they held them in their hands and realized they elicited no surge of joy.
Kondo definitely practices what she preaches. She even discarded a book on how to discard things.
When clients protest, “It seems wrong to get rid of this blouse that I bought but never wore,” Kondo advises us to realize that the fun of shopping for that item of clothing, and then bringing it home, might well have been its purpose. Now it’s time to let someone else wear it. Or we can say aloud, “Thank you for teaching me to shop more wisely,” or “Thank you for helping me learn what really looks good on me.”
What about those annual stacks of Christmas cards you’re hanging on to, or that drawer full of personal notes you assume you’ll read again one day?
Perhaps their purpose was fully accomplished when you felt a rush of joy reading them for the first time. Now you can let them go.
It’s impossible to overstate the transforming power of choosing to give thanks for everything – even the smallest things.
As the apostle Paul put it, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (I Thessalonians 5:16-18)
Those simple verses are like open doors and windows to the kind of life in which we really begin to believe that God is always holding on to us.
Which means we can be free not to hold on to everything else.
— Authored by Glenn McDonald
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