Can tidying up change your life?

Absolutely, according to Marie Kondo, the Japanese lifestyle consultant and author of the #1 New York Times best seller, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.


The book was recommended to my wife and I by Emily, my  niece. I did not act upon it at the time. I thought to myself, “If a book about decluttering can make it to the New York Times best-selling list, it may not be too late for a wannabe author like myself.” What could a middle-aged North American couple, who pride themselves on being organized, possibly learn from a New Age Japanese lifestyle guru?

The worldwide success of the Marie Kondo book prompted the subsequent publishing of various books of the same genre, including The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself and Your Family from a Lifetime of Clutter by the Swedish author Margareta Magnusson. The international phenomenon piqued my interest on the subject of tidying up one’s living space

Organization does not necessarily entail tidiness. In our home, we organize everything into containers: bags, boxes, drawers, cabinets, etc. The problem is that we run out of storage space, and the containers end up lying on the floor.

The storage space crunch is pervasive in our society  My next door neighbor has a  2-door garage that is choke-full of boxes, but no cars. Their beautiful cars park on the street. Some people resort to renting commercial storage space to park their excess belonging.

Discard before you store.


In her book, Marie Kondo explains a workable step-by-step decluttering plan. It does not begin with putting stuff away. Quite the contrary, the first step is to discard things, things that “don’t spark joy when you touch them.” For people who are well-advanced in age, we tend to accumulate more and more possessions, and find it harder and harder to get rid of them, some of which are totally useless to us.

Marie Kondo wisely observes that “being surrounded by things that spark joy makes you happy”.  A tidy home, as per Kondo, enhances the serendipity of your home by removing your possessions accumulated in the past that have now become baggage, both literally and emotionally, and freeing you to pursue new dreams in your life. She aptly calls it the “magic effect of tidying.”

When I first dive into Kondo’s book, I cannot help but think this young lady must be suffering, since childhood, from a obsessive-compulsive disorder for decluttering. I picture that if I had followed  her method, tidying would become a daily chore, and before long my home would regress to its previous state. The good news is that you tidy up in one fell swoop using her method.  Hard work, undoubtedly. But, her method helps you design a storage system in which every thing has a designated storage location. Keeping your home tidy involves only putting things back to their designated location. Simple. The good news does not end there.  Kondo contends that tidying up all at once creates such a dramatic heart-felt impact on you that the effects are long lasting. In other words, no rebounds.

Lastly, I’d like to offer my boomer’s perspective on the subject of tidying. In addition to enabling us to explore new passion in our life, another tangible benefit of discarding things that no longer give us joy is that our children or grandchildren don’t have to, after we are gone. Let’s make sure that we leave them with what we truly cherish, not boxes and boxes of stuff that we so conveniently put away in the garage.