My Favorite Quotes from ‘the life-changing magic of tidying up: the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing’


Michael Lichauco
Sep 7, 2018 · 10 min read


I’m sitting at my dimly lit desk, fidgeting about as I attempt to create a last minute study guide for my American History Class. At the very least, you’d suspect that I’d be speedwriting page after page of notes, trying to cram every last bit of information about Andrew Jackson or Shay’s Rebellion.

Nope. I’m totally lost. For some weird reason, I have this urge to clean up the space around me — a wasteland of blank sheets of paper, cans of empty energy drinks, and mistreated film equipment scattered across the carpet floor. Here’s the craziest part — I’m the most productive after a quick decluttering of my room. After every clean up, a wave of motivation hits me, allowing me to focus immensely on the task at hand. I wanted to know why. Why did my apocalypse-looking room prevent me from focusing on my studies? Why was I so productive after tidying up?

Fast-forward a couple of years, and I got used to studying at coffee shops and in public spaces — like my depressing, life-sucking community college library. I got back into reading, and I was in search of some new self-help books (my favorite genre of books). This was right after I finished Awakening Your Ikigai by Ken Mogi, and I fell in love with Japanese culture. Pacing down every aisle at Barnes and Nobles, I stumbled upon ‘the life-changing magic of tidying up: the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing’ by Marie Kondo (man that’s a mouthful). I didn’t know what I was getting myself into, but I remember a feeling of relief washing over me as I picked it from the shelf. It was as if I knew that this book had the key to all my unanswered questions.

I’m embarrassed to say, but it took me the whole summer to finally read the last words of this tiny but jammed-pack book. It wasn’t because I was putting it off — I mean I did for a bit, but it was because I was moving down to Long Beach. I wanted to cherish every last bit of it. There were days where I just couldn’t read it. Then came the day where I was leaving for college. By that time, I finished more than half of the book — and surprisingly, it really did help me during the entire moving process. Garbage bags of clothes and miscellaneous household items filled the curbsides. I discarded a lot of things I didn’t need — things that didn’t bring me joy. It even helped with the process of moving in, as I knew how to organize my belongings and fold my clothes in the limited space I had at my shared apartment.

Saying that Kondo’s philosophy in tidying helped me with only moving out is an understatement — her words of advice advocate for a healthy change in lifestyle that graces in the beliefs of appreciating your home and showing gratitude for all your belongings, even ones that you’re about to discard. With this in mind, here are the fifty quotes that sang to my heart during my journey of finding answers to my questions:

1. A dramatic reorganization of the home causes correspondingly dramatic changes in lifestyle and perspective. It is life transforming (pg. 2)

2. It is only when you put your house in order that your furniture and decorations come to life (pg. 7)

3. Our parents demanded that we clean up our rooms, but they too, had never been trained in how to do that. When it comes to tidying, we are all self-taught (pg. 10)

4. People cannot change their habits without first changing their way of thinking (pg. 15)

5. If you use the right method and concentrate your efforts on eliminating clutter thoroughly and completely within a short span of time, you’ll see instant results that will empower you to keep your space in order ever after (pg. 17)

6. So I can tell you from experience that you will never get your house in order if you only clean up half-heartedly (pg. 19)

7. Have you ever found yourself unable to study the night before an exam and begun frantically tidying? I confess, I have. In fact, for me it was a regular event (Same here! pg. 19)

8. Tidying is just a tool, not the final destination. The true goal should be to establish the lifestyle you want most once your house has been put in order (pg. 21)

9. It’s human nature to take the easy route (pg. 22)

10. We need to exercise self-control and resist storing our belongings until we have finished identifying what we really want and need to keep (pg. 23)

11. Because we should be choosing what we want to keep, not what we want to get rid of (pg. 41)

12. Take each item in one’s hand and ask: “Does this spark joy?” If it does, keep it. If not, dispose of it (pg. 41)

13. Repetition and wasted effort can kill motivation, and therefore it must be avoided (pg. 43)

14. Don’t let your family see what’s here. If at all possible, take the bags out yourself. There’s no need to let your family know the details of what you throw out or donate (pg. 48)

15. The urge to point out someone else’s failure to tidy is usually a sign that you are neglecting to take care of your own space. This is why you should begin by discarding only your own things. You can leave the communal spaces to the end. The first step is to confront your own stuff (pg. 53)

16. But it is human nature to resist throwing something away even when we know that we should (pg. 59)

17. Every object has a different role to play. Not all clothes have come to you to be worn threadbare. It is the same with people. Not every person you meet in life will become a close friend or lover. Some you will find hard to get along with or impossible to like. But these people, too, teach you the precious lesson of who you do like, so that you will appreciate those special people even more (pg. 60)

18. The act of folding is far more than making clothes compact for storage. It is an act of caring, an expression of love and appreciation for the way these clothes support your lifestyle. Therefore, when we fold, we should put our heart into it, thanking our clothes for protecting our bodies (pg. 73)

19. Never, ever tie up your stockings. Never, ever ball up your socks (pg. 81)

20. Books you have read have already been experienced and their content is inside you, even if you don’t remember (pg. 90)

21. The true purpose of a present is to be received. Presents are not “things” but a means for conveying someone’s feelings. When viewed from this perspective, you don’t need to feel guilty for parting with a gift (pg. 108)

22. Mysterious cords will always remain just that — a mystery (pg. 110)

23. The thoughts of disposing of them sparks (sentimental items) the fear that we’ll lose those precious memories along with them. But you don’t need to worry. Truly precious memories will never vanish even if you discard the objects associated with them (pg. 114)

24. We live in the present. No matter how wonderful things used to be, we cannot live in the past. The joy and excitement we feel here and now are more important (pg. 114)

25. Your past will become a weight that holds you back and keeps you from living in the here and now. To put things in order means to put your past in order, too. It’s like resetting your life and settling your accounts so that you can take the next step forward (pg. 117)

26. The purpose of a letter is fulfilled the moment it is received. By now, the person who wrote it has long forgotten what he or she wrote and even the letter’s very existence (pg. 117)

27. It is not our memories but the person we have become of those past experiences that we should treasure. This is the lesson these keepsakes teach us when we sort them. The space in which we live should be for the person we are becoming now, not for the person we were in the past (My FAVORITE line in the book — pg.118)

28. As you reduce your belongings through the process of tidying, you will come to a point where you suddenly know how much is just right for you (pg. 124)

29. As you put your house in order and decrease your possessions, you’ll see what your true values are, what is really important to you in your life. But don’t focus on reducing, or on efficient storage methods, for that matter. Focus instead on choosing the things that inspire joy and on enjoying life according to your own standards. If you have not yet felt a click, don’t worry. You can still reduce. Tackle this job with confidence (pg. 125)

30. Only you can know what kind of environment makes you feel happy (pg. 126)

31. Just because you dispose of something does not mean you give up past experiences or your identity. Through the process of selecting only those things that inspire joy, you can identify precisely what you love and what you need (pg. 126)

32. When we honestly confront the things we own, they evoke many emotions within us. Those feelings are real. It is these emotions that give us the energy for living (pg. 127)

33. The reason every item must have a designated place is because the existence of an item without a home multiplies the chances that your space will become cluttered again (pg. 132)

34. The best method is to experiment and enjoy the process (pg. 149)

35. The people I meet work not only hard to refine both body and mind but also remember to ask the gods for extra luck (pg. 160)

36. Your storage space is your private paradise, so personalize it to the fullest (pg. 162)

37. If you are going to buy clothes, choose them with the intention of welcoming them into your home and caring for them (pg. 166)

38. Even if we remain unaware of it, our belongings really work hard for us, carrying out their respective roles each day to support our lives (pg. 170)

39. Storage, after all, is the sacred act of choosing a home for my belongings (pg. 171)

40. The experience of tidying causes them to become more passionately involved in their work (pg. 176)

41. The reasons why we can’t let something go, there are only two: an attachment to the past or a fear for the future (pg. 181)

42. There are three approaches we can take toward our possessions: face them now, face them sometime, or avoid them until the day we die (pg. 184)

43. “I believe that tidying is a celebration, a special send-off for those things that will be departing from the house…” (pg. 189)

44. In essence, tidying ought to be the act of restoring balance among people, their possessions, and the house they live in (pg. 190)

45. It’s a very strange phenomenon, but when we reduce what we own and essentially “detox” our house, it has a detox effect on our bodies as well (pg. 193)

46. The basic belief is that everything has its own energy and that each thing should be treated in a way that suits its characteristics (pg. 197)

47. I can think of no greater happiness in life than to be surrounded only by the things I love (pg. 202)

48. Human beings can only truly cherish a limited number of things at one time (pg. 203)

49. As for you, pour your time and passion into what brings you the most joy, your mission in life. I am convinced that putting your house in order will help you find the mission that speaks to your heart. Life truly beings after you have put your house in order (pg. 204)

Final Thoughts

Honestly, this book is filled to the brim with numerous life lessons and quotes — I might as well copy and paste the whole damn thing. I know what you’re going to say, “That’s plagiarism.” In seriousness, I really did fall in love with this book. During the whole event of reading it in my head, I imagined a female voice reading it to me. I don’t know who it was, but it was more soothing listening to her than hearing my own voice. I almost cried at school when I flipped to the last page, closing the covers to a book that has guided me for these last three months. It was as if I was parting with a lifelong friend—waiting for a day to come when we meet again.

I want to personally thank Marie Kondo for sharing her beautiful journey of tidying. Her life commitment on this subject not only helped me, but countless others across the world in pursuit of reshaping the environment around them.

To end this off, here’s the last quote that stuck out to me. I have a habit in ending off with the last sentence of the book — because it’s the most meaningful. However, I’ll end it off with a quote I recently highlighted after rereading the book to write this. It is also Kondo’s “why” in doing what she does best.

“I wrote this book because I wanted to share the magic of tidying.” — marie kondo

Simple, at the very least.

If you’re at the end and reading this…Let’s stay productive together 🤙

Michael Lichauco

Written by

20. Amateur Filmmaker. Coffee addict. Constantly growing.

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