I bought Marie Kondo’s book written in Japanese: 人生がときめく片付けの魔法2. It’s her 2nd book which is still not translated into English. I’m so excited to read it! It took 6 days with EMS for shipping from Japan to Indonesia. I ordered it on CDJapan/Neowing as usual.
Before KonMari, I tried other methods of tidying up from Japan but none of them worked for me. All of them told me to get rid of stuff I didn’t need but with other methods, there was no clear standard of selecting things and it was impossible for me to know whether I was discarding enough stuff or not. It didn’t occur to me to touch every single item and ask myself ‘does it spark joy?’. I didn’t even know it was possible to touch every single item because I owned too many things. But KonMari’s book taught me that if something was beyond my capacity to take care of, I should just let go of it. And if later I regret letting go of a book, for example, I can just buy it again if I really want to read it.
Why I think other methods failed me:
1. There was no clear standard of ‘goal’ or ‘finish line’. I lost motivation in the process.
2. When I thought I had finished discarding stuff I didn’t need, I actually hardly made a dent in my piles of belongings.
3. I regret discarding some things and my room was still cluttered.
4. And then I felt like a failure and I felt even more stressed out because I still wanted the things I discarded. The stress and regret caused me to buy even more things and make my room even more cluttered.
KonMari Method works because just by following her cleaning order (by category: first, you deal with your clothes, and then books, and then small miscellaneous items, and then the last one: mementos from the past), you really can finish tidying up in a certain period of time. She calls cleaning a “festival” (祭り), makes it sound fun and enjoyable. Her motto is ‘do it one time , all at once’, ‘in a short period of time’, and ‘really finish it and do it perfectly’ (一気に、短期に、完璧に). The result after you’re done dealing with all your stuff is just so dramatic that you will find it worth it to discard all the things you don’t need. You will learn to buy things more carefully in the future because it’s painful to finally face your ‘shopping fails’. Now I watch “book haul” videos on YouTube thinking ‘forget it, you will never read YA fantasy novels, you got rid of so many, remember?’.
And I think KonMari Method allows you to keeps things that you still love even if it only sparks a little amount of joy so you’re allowed to grow at your own pace. Maybe one day you will mature spiritually and completely let go of attachment to material things (like Buddha or Jesus?) but right now, you are fine as you are, and you can have a tidy personal space in your house. I think other methods with their strict rules ignore that you’re still a person with preferences and personality.
And guess what, magically, things that spark joy for you will match the storage space in your house.
With KonMari Method, no need for motivation because you are required only to do it once. Also, NO REBOUND! How is that even possible? KonMari Magic! I think maybe because with less stuff, finally I can find a ‘home’ for everything and I learned to return everything to its place. Another side effect of KonMari Method is you will feel free and liberated by discarding things you don’t want, that from now on you will always be on the look out for things you don’t need anymore.
I feel more energized by living in a tidy space and also because what’s left after purging is my favorite things. Everywhere I lay my eyes on, I think, “I love this book” or “I love this bag”. I feel so energized I even cleaned my refrigerator, my kitchen, and my bathrooms. I didn’t know how to clean a fridge so I read a book on how to do household chores (in Japanese) and I did it. I used to be a very lazy housewife who doesn’t clean. I’ve changed! I even cleaned up my mother’s room. But I didn’t throw away her belongings. I tried to. I asked,”Mom, how many pieces of clothes does a person need? Throw away some of them! You can’t take these to your grave!” She got angry. “Who says I’m taking my clothes to my grave? I still wear all of them.” She doesn’t, of course. She keeps pointing out that I am being wasteful by throwing out things.
My three children (5, 8, 11) hated the idea of throwing out their clothes and toys and protested at first but when they realized that they were free to keep everything they want, they got on board. All I had to do was to show them one item and ask them,”Do you want to keep this or not?” They answered yes or no right away. I hope they learned to feel confidence about making their own decisions. When we were done,I asked them to look at what was left and I asked whether these are all toys/clothes that they loved, and they agreed. No regrets.
My mother got annoyed at me while watching the process, saying,”How dumb can you be that you trust little children’s judgement?” I replied,”My children know what clothes they want to wear and what toys they want to play with.” I trust my children. My mother doesn’t trust hers. Not my problem.
Anyway, I love having a tidier house now. My husband has slowly followed suit and starts to organize his boxes he brought from his stay in Japan. Finally. After 7 years not touching them. He discarded most of his stuff. I watched and listened to him while he held each item in his hands and told me the story about how he got it and why he would keep it or discard it. There are still a lot of clutter to discard and organize in my house but I am very very happy to have a tidier house and it’s all thanks to KonMari-sensei! Fifteen dollars for her first book was cheap and the best investment I’ve ever made.
By the way, I read English articles and online comments saying Marie Kondo is crazy because she really talks to her belongings as if they were alive and her method is so very simple that anyone who trusts her must be dumb. I think the cynical people ignore the fact that she’s a professional consultant with her own business in Japan, not some lame non-fiction writer with nothing to show for and her book was originally written for Japanese readers and Japanese don’t find it weird to believe there is a spirit living in every material thing (animism). The reason her books in Japanese and the translated ones in other languages are bestsellers is because her simple method works. You only need to really do it and stop being so cynical like my mother. ###