Over the last couple weeks, I feel like as many people as have wished me a Happy New Year have asked if I’ve watched the new Netflix show Tidying up with Marie Kondo. Clearly, I have not been alone in voraciously binging the show and walking away with the hope that Marie Kondo can save the day with her seemingly simple credo: toss anything and everything that doesn’t "spark joy."
Living in NYC apartments, it can be easy for us to watch and be dismissive of the people featured on the show who just have SO MUCH STUFF. I mean, if we had that much stuff in our tiny apartments, we would need to be on Hoarders and not Tidying up, but I digress…Regardless of the size of our homes, the broader issue remains—what is the emotional impact that mess and clutter can have on our psyches and lives? And, with the size of our apartments and our nearly universal lack of closet space, the idea of decluttering for a more easeful and stress-free life is a great one to bring into the New Year.
Marie Kondo’s method can be summed up as: Keep the stuff that actually matters to you. Store it in a way that allows you to see what you have. That’s it. The focus is on choosing what you keep, not what you get rid of. Does the item "spark joy?" Then keep it. If it doesn’t, then thank it and neatly discard it.
The KonMari organizational strategy involves tackling items in this order:
Komono, which translates to "small article" or "accessories," but which basically seems to mean, oh good god, people have a ton of stuff and we can’t have an organization systems with 187 categories, so let’s just put everything else here and then we can have a tight five.
In her book, Kondo challenges us to ask ourselves: "Am I having trouble getting rid of this because of an attachment to the past or because of a fear for the future?" As we go through our possessions, she urges us to ask ourselves, what are we holding onto because of attachment to the past, guilt, desire for stability, or aspiration for the future. (That pair of jeans that look amazing on me in high school and maybe one day they’ll fit me again. Attachment to the past, guilt, and aspiration all rolled into one! Or is that just me?)
This was just the reality TV show I needed to start the New Year with a sense of possibility and potential for what 2019 can bring, leaving the clutter and messiness of 2018 behind. As Kondo says, "It’s not just possessions that are confronted but life and the future as well." Here’s to spending more time thinking about what can be accomplished if we concentrate on what really matters to us—letting go of our fear for the future and our fear of letting go of the past—and see what we already have in front of us: eight episodes of Tidying Up on Netflix, queued up and ready to binge.
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