Thanks to an October 22nd article in The New York Times, I have been made familiar with Japanese de-cluttering superstar Marie Kondo and her methods. Her book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing,” is a best seller in Japan.
"Tidying is a dialogue with oneself," according to Kondo. Amen, sister! Making appropriate decisions about one's belongings requires more than just a trash bag. It involves a thoughtful definition of one's values and goals, and an honest evaluation of how belongings support or detract from them.
Belongings must “spark joy,” Kondo insists. True that! It's easy these days to loosen our definition of the word, "joy," but you're shorting yourself if you welcome anything into your world that doesn't kindle satisfaction and inspire love.
"Thank your stuff, it’s been working hard for you," says Kondo. “When we take our clothes in our hands and fold them neatly,” she writes, “we are, I believe, transmitting energy, which has a positive effect on our clothes.” Here's where Kondo's eastern perspective introduces a fascinating approach. She anthropomorphizes items, encouraging us to treat our belongings with respect, taking care when handling them, putting them away - and even when discarding them.
I believe that if we treated our stuff with more respect, we'd also recognize when it no longer sparked joy, and we'd be better prepared to simply set it free.