It was not very appealing when I first started it, because on the first few pages it tried very hard to impress me. There were way too many claims, like ‘this will change your life’, ‘tidy once for all’, ‘forever’, ‘never a rebound again’ and other such dramatic words that get misused in adverts.
The “KonMari Method” emphasises discarding and organising in one go. A dramatic reorganisation leads to dramatic change in life is her claim. But I think it’s this ‘dramatic-ness’ that I don’t like about this tidying method. The pages are filled with boasts like “I have assisted individual clients who have thrown out 200 45-litre bin bags in one go”. My reaction is always, “what a waste!” I know her purpose is to de-clutter, so fair enough she wants to get rid of things. But at least, she could suggest charity shops etc. as the book De-Clutter does, instead of letting it all go to landfill. (De-Clutter is another Japanese tidying book I read recently. You can read about it here.) It seems to me the emphasis of this book is to empty your home, after that, you’ll become slimmer, happier and richer (which is rather ridiculous to me as well). In comparison, De-Clutter touches on issues like materialism, one’s sense of security from possessions and realising the greater value of things by giving them to those in need.
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up seems rather self-centred and selfish.
In practice, the other ‘dramatic-ness’ I don’t like is that she suggests clearing out items from the same category in one go, for example, piling all your clothes from every corner of your house in the middle of your bedroom floor, going through them until the last piece. I wonder if I have the time and patience for that when it comes to my ‘book’ category.
There is another thing I noticed when comparing The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and De-Clutter, and that is the celebrity effect. If you remember the post about De-Clutter, when you search the book title, there are before and after pictures of rooms and cartoon illustrations about the book. However, if you google The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, a lot of images of the author come up, including the related TV series. The book includes a lot of stories the author told about herself as well. For example, how she started tidying when her age was a single digit – she definitely found her gift early.
According to the KonMari Method, the one standard to decide whether you keep or get rid of one item is, ‘does this spark joy in your heart’. Does it make you happy and bring you joy? If this rule was followed, I wouldn’t be here – my mother hates cooking, she would have got rid of all pots and pans in the kitchen and maybe even the fridge – I would be long gone by now. If I followed this rule, I wouldn’t be able to go to work on Monday looking normal and feeling warm – my wardrobe is mainly to keep me clothed and warm. I don’t get my daily joy from clothes (partly because clothes in the UK really do not spark joy in me…).
There are a few things that sound quite funny to me. I think it’s from typical Japanese culture that is heavily influenced by Shinto religion. For example, energy will flow from your hands to your clothes when you fold them, therefore keep them looking better; never tie up tights and stockings or ball your socks because they can’t rest in this way; stacking is bad because things at the bottom of the pile get exhausted; things breathe a sigh of relief when they return to where they belong; getting into the habit of saying “thank you” to your clothes, cupboards and house. Gratitude is the most healthy attitude according to some research. But clothes, cupboards and house are lifeless. So please say “thank you” to the one who ultimately provides and blesses you with all these things.
There are a lot of things I learnt from the book and agree with her, like vertical storage, designating a certain place for certain items, simple storage solutions are the best (I’m looking for two shoes boxes at the moment). One thing, for example, I learnt from her and agree with her is that storage solutions do not solve the tidying problem. It might be a bad news for IKEA. I love IKEA and I love imaging how different cupboards and drawers will fit among our existing furniture for more storage. But I have been emptying cupboards and drawers recently. There might not be a need to go to IKEA for a while.
There are things I’d like to try as well, for example, storing salt, oil and soy sauce in a cupboard rather than keeping them next to the stove. I used to cook only with these three flavouring items (sorry husband), but now I use a bigger range of seasonings, sauces and oils thanks to the recipe books I got at Christmas (thanks husband) that I can’t keep them all next to the stove. So why not put them all away after cooking? I’ll try.
In the end, she argues that tidying will help you find the true passion of your life (even if it’s not tidying), gain confidence, become slim, healthy and happy, bring you good fortune, transform your life and start a real life. I flicked through these pages rather quickly.
One thing I cannot ignore and I’m pretty touched by is her passion. Despite my disagreement and her childishness, I am encouraged by her positive attitude and energy.
Not everyone will tidy following her instruction and I’m greatly relieved and glad about it. Thanks to collectors and hoarders, museums and galleries won’t run out of materials to exhibit in 50, 200 or 1000 years.
One interesting thing I noticed on her website is, her tidying lectures are open to women only. What do you think?
P.S House-emptying, clearing out, tidying up or being a minimalist seem to be gaining popularity recently. Apart from De-Clutter and The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I noticed a new Penguin book called Stuffocation published at the beginning of 2015. So I searched it on Amazon, several suggestions came up, all on the similar topics. But I think I won’t be reading any more books of this kind, otherwise I’ll have to either find them a home on my bookshelves or throw them out eventually.