6 life-changing insights from decluttering the KonMari way
I imagined I would simply be cleaning my closet. Instead, I learned six life-changing lessons about love, life, shopping and happiness. I like having things organized, but I really hate to clean. So to avoid big cleaning sprees, I had adopted a clean-a-little-every-day, keep-the-vacuum-cleaner-away philosophy. So when I read the words ‘once-cleaned, never-messy-again’ in Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying I was sceptical to say the least.
But it worked. In one day I cleaned my closet, and in the process came to see my life more clearly.
“In one day I cleaned my closet and in the process came to see my life more clearly”
1 | Decide what to keep in your life
I’ve usually started decluttering by thinking what to throw out. KonMari changed that — you don’t decide what to discard, you decide what to keep. To do this KonMari asks you to pile everything (in my case, my clothes) in one place. That makes it easier to discard, since you’re deciding what you will take the effort to put BACK.
I realized I had taken the “discard” mentality with other things too. I had been thinking about what food items to cut out, not which ones to eat. I had been evaluating what projects to eliminate, not which ones I truly wanted to do.
So asking “What will you keep?” instead of “What will you eliminate?” can make all the difference.
“the question “What do you want to keep?” instead of “What will you eliminate?” can make all the difference”
2 | All you need is joy
I’ve always been drawn to complex rules about discarding. KonMari has just one simple rule: “You keep the things that spark joy”. Sounds silly, but it works. When you take the things you own one-by-one into your hands and consider the feelings they spark, you begin to see the silly reasons you hold on to stuff. “It was a gift”. “It was so expensive”. “It would look great if I was shaped differently”.
When I looked at my clothes through the lens of joy and found items that truly made me smile I felt relieved. To other items I could simply say — “This was expensive, but it doesn’t bring me joy so I won’t keep it”.
This changed shopping habits too — when you consider buying something and see yourself a few months later thinking “this doesn’t bring me joy” you pause that little extra moment, and you end up buying less.
3 | We love the memories, not the things. So discard the things, keep the memories.
You will invariably come across items that carry a lot of emotional value. The summer dress from that vacation in Spain. A pair of designer jeans you used to LOVE. A jacket passed down by your mother. So I had kept the dress, jeans and jacket and buried them at the bottom of my closet to become dusty and wrinkled. Was that how I wanted to remember that vacation in Spain?
It’s difficult to throw out things of sentimental value, but here’s what I did: When I found it hard to let it go of that dress, I decided to honor the memory properly. I tracked down a picture from the vacation where I used it and stored it in a new folder titled “Memories to make me smile”. The dress is not the memory, it only reminds me of it. Now that I had a new, better reminder, it was easier to let the dress go.
4 | Don’t let your past define your today
Some items need to be let go because they’ve already served their purpose in your life. I was holding on to a lot of business clothes from my consulting days. Now they’ve been in my closet for nearly three years with no use. Yet, I’ve hung on to them thinking “Maybe one day…” or “It’s such great quality”.
In the same way you wouldn’t keep pictures of an old boyfriend on your bedside table, you shouldn’t keep clothes that belonged to an earlier you. Be happy you met and grateful for the good memories, then let it be a part of your past.
5 | Fewer items — more choice
I’m probably not the only one walking around thinking “I have nothing to wear”. With KonMari I discarded 50% of what I own, and I’ve never felt I have more choice! When you clean out the things you ‘kinda like’, you’re left with the things you really love. This has two benefits: 1) with few items so you can store them so you can at a glance see everything you have, 2) you feel exhilarated about wearing every single item.
The same applies to other things in life: Fewer ingredients on a pizza brings out the flavors of the ones you have. The fewer meetings you attend, the more engaged you can be in the ones you do take. Fewer items hanging on your wall draws the attention to the beauty of the ones you choose to display.
“When you clean out the things you ‘kinda like’, you’re left with the things you really love”
Tidying the KonMari way was not a mere exercise in decluttering. It became a practice in mindfulness, a deep-dive into happiness, and a pathway to see my whole life more clearly.
I warmly recommend getting the book for the whole experience! Inspired by the book and the method we in the YOU-team created a simple step-by-step guide to tidy inspired by KonMari. With this YOU-app action pack where you can document your experience and share it with a global community!
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