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The Eye-Rolling Magic of Changing Your Life

How one trendy self-help movement helped me have less stuff and find more joy.

By Sarah Jenkins

Dec 2018

self help book and coffee
Photo by Brandon AlmsSarah Jenkins’s home wasn’t always so clutter-free. Thanks to Marie Kondo’s methods, Jenkins was able to declutter and destress in the process. Purchase Photo

Throughout my life, I kept a dirty secret: I was a person with too much stuff. Snapshots, knickknacks and souvenirs cluttered my house and my mind. I needed to change but had no idea where to start. Then a creative-and-also-messy friend shared her success with The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. I was skeptical—this book promises life-changing magic, and Harry Potter is nowhere to be found—but within the first pages, I was hooked. Japanese organization expert Marie Kondo and her KonMari method have become an internet sensation for a reason: It works.

The core idea is that everything you own should fill you with joy. Sentimental ties or monetary value matter less than how you feel when you hold an object in your hands. The things that you keep, according to Kondo, should spark joy, not just memories. “It is not the memories but the person we have become because of those past experiences that we should treasure,” Kondo says. Starting with clothes, joy-test everything you own (and I mean everything: every sock, every pillow, every photo in every shoebox), so you keep only what you truly love.

When items are tough to discard, Kondo asks us to remember their original purpose. If you loved a sweater once upon a time, but it no longer brings you joy to wear, it’s time to say goodbye. Literally. Saying goodbye (out loud) and thank you (no, really) can make it easier to toss that sweater in the donate pile. 

The KonMari process is part cleaning spree, part therapy session. And if you’re holding on to too much stuff, that may be exactly what you need. “If you stow things away in a drawer or cardboard box, before you realize it, your past will become a weight that holds you back and keeps you from living in the here and now,” she says. 

If the weight of your stuff is holding you back, give KonMari a try. It might just change your life.