Book Review – The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and OrganizingThe Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondō
My rating: 5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

“The question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life.”


So, cleaning.

Our house is cluttered and it’s an issue, because we want to put it on the market very soon. We keep trying to de-clutter but it doesn’t seem to work. Is our house too small? Why does it always feel like there’s so much junk laying around, even after we purge a bunch of junk? I needed a solution.

And I loved the solution offered in the KonMari method, through this book. Which a lot of people seem to hate, actually.

When I saw the reviews my GoodReads friends had written for this book, I was a little hesitant. So many people were making fun of it, panning it, finding it more ridiculous than anything else. But I’d had some people I’d talked to tell me how life-changing it can be, and so I decided to give it a try anyway. And I’m so glad I did.



And here’s where I say it was pretty much a religious experience and you think I’ve gone batshit over the edge crazy.

But it’s true.

Here’s the thing: We are a Buddhist household. Zen Buddhist to be more precise. And this book is Japanese, and really, really in line with the spirituality of both Shinto and Buddhism. If your head isn’t in the place that those paths bring you to, you are probably going to hate this book. It probably won’t work for you.

Much of the philosophy of the KonMari method is about respect and mindfulness. Yes, it asks that you treat your belongings with respect. It asks that you acknowledge their place in your world, and thank them for the work that they do for you. This leads to you treating your space with respect, yourself with respect and your life with respect. If you think it’s beyond silly to thank your belongings before you let them go, that’s okay. Because not every path is for everyone. But I found it incredibly freeing, and it allowed me to let go of things that were cluttering up my world.


“The best way to choose what to keep and what to throw away is to take each item in one’s hand and ask: “Does this spark joy?” If it does, keep it. If not, dispose of it. This is not only the simplest but also the most accurate yardstick by which to judge.”


I had – and still have – a lot of things in my life that might be useful, might be sentimental, might be practical, but didn’t spark joy. Because they were there, I constantly had the feeling that I was surrounded by junk, but I wasn’t getting rid of these things because I have a practical heart. What if I needed it for something? Why replace it, it’s only a little old/broken/ugly? It constantly gave me a feeling of being surrounded by blech. It made my space unhappy.

It’s very freeing to let that stuff go.

So far, I have only done the clothing – section by section, as indicated by the book. There is a very precise method here, and it starts with the items that are most easily replaceable, and least likely to have sentimental attachments. Everything is broken in to categories – like clothing – and then subcategories, like socks, tops and so on. I like having a plan, and found this easy to follow. You are then asked to get every item out so you can see your belongings en masse – this seems silly at first, why not just go through your drawers? But I can tell you now that it definitely makes a difference, when you are faced with everything at one time, out in the open, where you can’t deny the numbers or the bulk.

Once you discard, you begin learning how to put things away in an orderly fashion. And yes, I even folded my socks and underwear as directed and began storing things in vertical fashion in my drawers. And that makes a difference too. Waking up in the morning and being able to see everything at a glance, looking beautiful in my drawers is an amazing thing. It starts your day with an oasis of calm. You don’t have to search for anything, because you can find that right pair of socks immediately. And even better? Everything you look at makes you happy, because you no longer have any items hanging around that bring you down.



“The process of assessing how you feel about the things you own, identifying those that have fulfilled their purpose, expressing your gratitude, and bidding them farewell, is really about examining your inner self, a rite of passage to a new life.”


I can’t wait to finish the rest of my house. I can’t wait until everything, not just my drawers, is an expression of who I am now, and is a place of joy and contentment. This book really resonated with me, and fits into my life philosophy so very, very beautifully.

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