Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Reviewed: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

I cannot remember when was my first encounter and from whom I discovered the book. Was it from Goodreads or another blogger who shared her experience? What I know for sure, I was again drawn by all the positive reviews. I even landed on a blogger who beceame so attached with the KonMari principles. She was able to organise a grand garage sale with her friends and soon after, surrendered her life to become a true disciple. Hahaha That was a little exaggerated. :)

Truth to be told, I'm not a fan of self-help books. The irony. :) I'm not comfortable with the usual preachy and imposing atmosphere of this literary genre. I've been deceived by some inspirational books claiming to transform my life in 365 days, only to later feel bored and irritated. If not because of the reviews and experiences of everyone, I would not have purchased this expensive hardback.

I have a number of thoughts and realisations while reading and learning the KonMari approach. I hope I will be able to relate everything in this post. Let me start with the structure of the book. The first chapters related Marie Kondo's personal experiences on decluttering. It progressed with the different techniques and principles in decluttering, which she trademarked as the KonMari approach, emanating from the author's name. The book ended with explanations on how decluttering can actually lead our path to the life-changing happiness.

I find the principles presented by the KonMari approach realistic, manageable and convincing to some extent.  However,  not everything appeared innovative and impressive for me. An example is the vertical arrangement of clothes in storage spaces. By principle, vertical arrangement has always been the solution in space saving problems.

What I love most about the KonMari principle is the rule of thumb in decluttering. More often than not, our primary basis on decluttering is usefulness. Items that are no longer useful should be thrown away. The KonMari principle presents a different approach. KonMari's first step in decluttering stems from the question, does this spark joy? If an item does not anymore spark any degree of joy, then it's time to part ways.

Contrary to the usual basis in decluttering, I appreciate the consideration of every person's emotional state in the process. Marie Kondo presented a more humane and realistic approach. An example is the baptismal gown worn by each child in the family. If we are dealing with the element of usefulness, there's no reason to keep it. The KonMari principle is rather forgiving. We are allowed to keep items that still spark joy. Although along the way, Marie Kondo gives more reasons why sentimental factors are sometimes deceiving. There are examples on how to gradually move away from sentimental value.

I was expecting that Marie Kondo will highlight the root cause of all clutter....accumulating unnecessary items. Impulsive shopping and hoarding... I was surprised that Marie Kondo never mentioned anything about suppressing our shopaholic hormones. The KonMari principle did not enforce shopping ban or preventing further purchases. I appreciate this approach for the simple reason that it is realistic. Marie Kondo remained focused on her major concern of decluttering alone. However, the core of the KonMari approach will later provide opportunities and compelling forces that will discourage the readers to engage in excessive shopping.

Another principle I learned from the KonMari is the system of decluttering by category and not of location. If we decide to declutter books, other items at home should be set side first. Gather all the books not just in your room or space, but all the books contained in your house. Same goes with clothes. If the focus of the decluttering is clothes, then everyone's clothes should be subjected.

The concluding chapters of the book revealed my most awaited part. Marie Kondo's explanation of how a well organised home can lead us to this "life-changing" stage. There were discussions on happiness and self-discovery. Marie Kondo related how one client actually discovered her real passion in life after adapting the KonMari lifestyle. (and yes, Marie Kondo has developed seminars, trainings and consultancy projects from decluttering) I was hoping to find the link between decluttering and happiness. There were explanations provided, but I still find it a little weak and insufficient.

Despite the minor disappointment, I have to admit that Marie Kondo's first book is one of the very limited self-help and inspirational books that I like. I may not be totally convinced of the life changing impact, but I believe in the principles taught by the KonMari approach. In fact, I felt the sudden urge to clean up my closet while reading the book. I was able to update my eBay account again.

Even without the life changing impact, I'm more than willing to live and apply the KonMari principles. And as it appears now, it looks like I'm another disciple in the making hahahaha 


  1. Ok na din ako na hindi nabili yan kasi parang natackle mu na lahat dito sa post na to hehehe. I've first known about Marie Kondo from Zen Habit kasi gusto ko talagang mag declutter. I still got a long way to go in terms of decluttering kasi I can't remove the sentimental feelings I have for some of the items that I really kept through the years.

  2. Bookmarking this entry of yours when I declutter next week! I have so much stuff in my tiny room that do not 'spark joy' anymore :)

  3. Im not also a fan of self helps, mas naeenjoy ko yung action books or something tells a story. However, right now im currently reading a book again, as well, parang sayo, discovering your identity, weird part is, yung current life situation ko ay sobrang applicable sa book. Tadhanang tunay. :)

    Atleast wala mang impact ang book na major, it helped you, and that i guess is enough diba? :)

  4. Yey, may natutunan akong bago :)

    "KonMari's first step in decluttering stems from the question, does this spark joy? If an item does not anymore spark any degree of joy, then it's time to part ways."

  5. Tapos mo nang basahin! Ako hanggang ngayon ay hindi pa sya tapos basahin. O di kaya maglinis! I understand the dramatic and cathartic feel of decluttering all in one go. Unfortunately I do not have the luxury of time. :-o And every time I try to tidy up, may toddler na "tumutulong." :-D


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