When I tell people that one of my favourite books is called “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up”, lots of people look at me as if I’m an alien. I happen to have a master’s degree in French and English literature. There are tons of novels I have fallen in love with. (My favourites are Jane Austen’s Persuasion and Stendhal’s La Chartreuse de Parme – Charterhouse of Parma).
Still, when people want to know about a book that really changed my life, I tell them about Marie Kondo’s masterpiece.
You see, the thing is, I don’t think the book is about tidying up, it’s about something else entirely.
What kind of questions do we usually ask yourself when we are decluttering?
- Have I used it recently?
- Was it a gift?
- Am I going to need it sometime soon?
And we decide based on practical concerns, relational concerns (it can be challenging to let go of a gift!) or a fear-based decision: what if I need it and I don’t have it anymore! And that’s how we end up buried in heaps of things we “may need someday”.
Ms Kondo takes a whole different approach: she invites to ask hold every item you own (yep, every single piece in your home) and to ask yourself the magical question:
Does it spark joy?
And based on how you feel holding this particular object, you decide: keep or give away.
It may seem strange at first, but trust me, if you follow the strategy Marie Kondo lays out in her book, you learn how to listen for this spark of joy.
You end up with only things that spark joy in your environment. How great does that sound! But I must warn you: it goes far beyond this. When you are tidying up, you will end up asking all day long: Does it spark joy? As you go, you will find yourself asking that question all the time. You will sit with acquaintances, having a drink as usual, and suddenly the question will pop into your head, and you will maybe realise that no, this doesn’t spark joy!
You may suddenly see that your studies no longer spark joy, your relationship no longer sparks joy, your hobbies no longer spark joy and so on.
That is when the magic operates: the same way you found the courage to get rid of things you kept for years, you will find the courage to change anything you don’t like about your life.
You may find a new way of looking at your studies or slightly change your plans, you will take a good hard look at your relationships and decide what you really want to do to take care of yourself, you will question the reason for your hobbies, take pleasure anew in them or change them entirely! The options are endless, you see. And it’s all up to you to decide.
And that, my friend, is “Life-Changing Magic”.
Have you read any life-changing books lately? What are your favourite novels?