The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up
The Japanese art of decluttering and organizing
Marie Kondo
Ten Speed Press, Berkeley, California (USA), 2014 (2011)
213 pages, including index
ISBN: 978-1-60774-730-7

This book was number 1 on the The New York Times Best Seller list for quite some time. As a matter of fact, right after Kondo published the book in 2011, it became a big hit in Japan and Europe before it was published in the United States in 2014, where it met the same fortune. Kondo's influence was so big that she was listed as one of Time magazine 100 most influential people in 2015, and the book became pretty much the bible of anyone interested in decluttering and minimalism.

As a consultant, Kondo came up with what she called the KonMari method of decluttering, which she describes in this book. To sum it up in just a few words, her method consists of gathering together all of one's belongings in one single place and one category at a time, and then discarding everything that does not "spark joy" before finally choosing a place for everything that one decides to keep. She is convinced that, by following this simple method, there will be no rebound (i.e., one will manage to keep the house successfully decluttered) because the change will bring about a turnabout in the person's life. The book is at times quasi-mystical and, at some other times, repetitive. Nevertheless, it does provide a good set of principles to guide anyone throughout a serious process of decluttering.

Think back to your own childhood. I'm sure most of us have been scolded for not tidying up our rooms, but how many of our parents consciously taught us how to tidy as part of our upbringing? Our parents demanded that we clean up our rooms, but they, too, had never been trained in how to do that. When it comes to tidying, we are all self-taught.

(Marie Kondo: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying up, p. 10)

(...) Rebound occurs because people mistakenly believe they have tidied thoroughly, when in fact they have only sorted and stored things halfway. If you put your house in order properly, you'll be able to keep your room tidy, even if you are lazy or sloppy by nature.

(Marie Kondo: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying up, p. 14)

Changing lifestyle habits acquired over a span of many years is generally extremely difficult. If you have never succeeded in staying tidy to date, you will find it next to impossible to develop the habit of tidying a little at a time. People cannot change their habits without first changing their way of thinking [bold in the original]. And that's not easy! After all, it's quite hard to control what we think. There is, however, one way to drastically transform the way we think about tidying.

(Marie Kondo: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying up, p. 15)

Tidying brings visible results. Tidying never lies. The ultimate secret of success is this: If you tidy up in one shot, rather than little by little, you can dramatically change your mind-set [bold in the original]. A change so profound that it touches your emotions will irresistibly affect your way of thinking and your lifestyle habits. My clients do not develop the habit of tidying gradually. Every one of them has been clutter-free since they undertook their tidying marathon. This approach is the key to preventing rebound.

(Marie Kondo: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying up, pp. 16-17)

(...) Putting things away creates the illusion that the clutter problem has been solved [bold in the original]. But sooner or later, all the storage units are full, the room once again overflows with things, and some new and "easy" storage method becomes necessary, creating a negative spiral. This is why tidying must start with discarding. We need to exercise self-control and resist storing our belongings until we have finished identifying what we really want and need to keep.

(Marie Kondo: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying up, p. 23)

Against the idea of tidying by location (e.g., by room):

Many people are surprised to hear that such a semingly viable approach is actually a common pitfall. The root of the problem lies in the fact that people often store the same type of item in more than one place. When we tidy each place separately, we fail to see that we're repeating the same work in many locations and become locked into a vicious circle of tidying. To avoid this, I recommend tidying by category. For example, instead of deciding that today you'll tidy a particular room, set goals like "clothes today, books tomorrow." One reason so many of us never succeed at tidying is because we have too much stuff. This excess is caused by our ignorance of how much we actually own. When we disperse storage of a particular item throughout the house and tidy one place at a time, we can never grasp the overall volume and therefore can never finish. To escape this negative spiral, tidy by category, not by place.

(Marie Kondo: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying up, p. 25)

(...) Effective tidying involves only two essential actions: discarding and deciding where to store things. Of the two, discarding must come first [bold in the original]. The principle does not change. The rest depends on the level of tidiness you personally want to achieve.

(Marie Kondo: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying up, p. 28)

One day after school, I opened the door to my room to begin cleaning as usual. At the sight of that untidy space, I finally lost it. "I don't want to tidy anymore!" I cried. Plopping myself down in the middle of my room, I began to think. I had spent three years tidying and discarding things, yet my room still felt cluttered. Would someone plase tell me why my room isn't tidy when I work so hard at it? [italics in the original] Although I did not say this out loud, in my heart I was practically shouting. At that moment, I heard a voice.

"Look more closely at what is there."

What do you mean? I look at what's here so closely every day I could drill a hole through it all. [italics in the original] Wiht that thought still in my head, I fell fast asleep right there on my floor. If I had been a little smarter, I would have realized before I became so neurotic that focusing solely on throwing things away can only bring unhappiness. Why? Because we should be choosing what we want to keep, not what we want to get rid of. [bold in the original]

(Marie Kondo: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying up, pp. 40-41)

In addition to the physical value of things, there are three other factors that add value to our belongings: function, information, and emotional attachment. When the element of rarity is added, the difficulty in choosing what to discard multiplies. People have trouble discarding things that they could still use (functional value), that contain helpful information (informational value), and that have sentimental ties (emotional values). When these things are hard to obtain or replace (rarity), they become even harder to part with [bold in the original].

(Marie Kondo: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying up, p. 45)

When you come across something that's hard to discard, consider carefully why you have that specific item in the first place. When did you get it and what meaning did it have for you then? Reassess the role it plays in your life. If, for example, you have some clothes that you bought but never wear, examine them one at a time. Where did you buy that particular outfit and why? If you bought it because you thought it looked cool in the shop, it has fulfilled the function of giving you a thrill when you bought it. Then why did you never wear it? Was it because you realized that it didn't suit you when you tried it on at home? If so, and if you no longer buy clothes of the same style or color, it has fulfilled another important function —it has taught you what doesn't suit you. In fact, that particular article of clothing has already completed its role in your life, and you are free to say, "Thank you for giving me joy when I bought you," or "Thank you for teaching me what doesn't suit me," and let it go.

(Marie Kondo: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying up, p. 60)

To truly cherish the things that are important to you, you must first discard those that have outlived their purpose. [bold in the original] To get rid of what you no longer need is neither wasteful nor shameful. Can you truthfully say that you treasure something buried so deeply in a closet or drawer that you have forgotten its existence? If things had feelings, they would certainly not be happy. Free them from the prison to which you have relegated them. Help them leave that deserted isle to which you have exiled them. Let them go, with gratitude. Not only you, but your things as well, will feel clear and refreshed when you are done tidying.

(Marie Kondo: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying up, p. 61)

Start with clothes, then move on to books, papers, komono (miscellany), and finally things with sentimental value. If you reduce what you own in this order, your work will proceed with surprising ease. By starting with the easy things first and leaving the hardest for last, you can gradually hone your decision-making skills, so that by the end, it seems simple.

For the first category, clothing, I recommend dividing further into the following subcategories to increase efficiency:
Tops (shirts, sweaters, etc.)
Bottoms (pants, skirts, etc.)
Clothes that should be hung (jackets, coats, suits, etc.)
Bags (handbags, messenger bags, etc.)
Accessories (scarves, belts, hats, etc.)
Clothes for specific events (swimsuits, kimonos, uniformst, etc.)

(Marie Kondo: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying up, p. 65)

There are two storage methods for clothes: one is to put them on hangers and hang from a rod and the other is to fold them and put them away in drawers. I can understand why people might be attracted to hanging their clothes. It seems like far less work. However, I strongly recommend folding as the main storage method. But it's a pain to fold clothes and put them away in the drawer. It's much easier to pop them on a hanger and stick them in the closet. [italics in the original] If that's what you're thinking, then you haven't discovered the true impact of folding.

Hanging just can't compete with folding for saving space. Although it depends somewhat on the thickness of the clothes in question, you can fit from twenty to forty pieces of folded clothing in the same amount of space required to hang ten. The client described above had only slightly more clothes than average. If she had folded them, she would have had no problem fitting them into her storage space. By neatly folding your clothes, you can solve almost every problem related to storage. [bold in the original]

But that is not the only effect of folding. The real benefit is that you must handle each piece of clothing. As you run your hands over the cloth, you pour your energy into it. The Japanese word for healing is te-ate, which literally means "to apply hands." The term originated prior to the development of modern medicine when people believed that placing one's hand on an injury promoted healing. We know that gentle physical contact from a parents, such as holding hands, patting a child on the head, and hugging, has a calming effect on children. Likewise, a firm but gentle massage by human hands does much more to lossen knotted muscles than being pummeled by a massage machine. The energy that flows from the person's hands into our skin seems to heal both body and soul.

The same is true for clothing. When we take our clothes in our hands and fold them neatly, we are, I believe, transmitting energy, which has a positive effect on our clothes. Folding properly pulls the cloth taut and erases wrinkles, and makes the material stronger and more vibrant. Clothes that have been nearly folded have a resilience and sheen that can be discerned immediately, clearly distinguishing them from those that have been haphazardly stuffed in a drawer. The act of folding is far more than making clothes compact for storage. It is an act of caring, an expression of love and appreciation for the way these clothes support your lifestyle. Therefore, when we fold, we should put out heart into it, thanking our clothes for protecting our bodies.

In addition, folding clothes after they have been washed and dried is an opportunity to really notice them in all their detail. For example, we might spot places where the cloth has frayed or see that a certain piece of clothing is becoming worn out. Folding is really a form of dialogue with our wardrobe. Japanese traditional clothing, kimono and yukata, were always folded into rectangles to fit perfectly into drawers designed to their uniform dimensions. I don't think there is any other culture in the world where storage units and clothing matched so precisely. Japanese people quickly grasp the pleasure that comes from folding clothes, almost as if they are genetically programmed for this task.

(Marie Kondo: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying up, pp. 72-74)

On how to fold:

The first step is to visualize what the inside of your drawer will look like when you finish. The goal should be to organize the contents so that you can see where every itme is at a glance, just as you can see the spines of the books on your bookshelves. The key is to store things standing up rather than laid flat. [bold in the original] Some people mimic store displays, folding each piece of clothing into a large square and then arranging them one on top of the other in laters. This is great for temporary sales displays in stores, but not what we should be aiming for at home, where our relationship with these clothes is long term.

To store clothes standing, they must be made compact, which means more folds. Some people believe that more folds means more wrinkles, but this is not the case. It is not the number of folds but rather the amount of pressure aplied that causes wrinkling. Even lightly folded clothes will wrinkle if they are stored in a pile because the weight of the clothes acts like a press. Think of the difference between folding one sheet of paper as opposed to a hundred sheets in one go. It is much harder to get a sharp crease when folding a whole stack of paper at one time.

Once you have an image of what the inside of your drawers will look like, you can begin folding. The goal is to fold each piece into a simple, smooth rectangle [bold in the original]. First, fold each lengthwise side of the garment toward the center (such as the left-hand, then right-hand, sides of a shirt) and tuck the sleeves in to make a long rectangular shape. It doesn't matter how you fold the sleeves. Next, pick up one short end of the rectangle and fold it toward the other short end. Then fold again, in the same manner, in halves or in thirds. The number of folds should be adjusted so that the folded clothing when standing on edge fits the height of the drawer. This is the basic principle that will ultimately allow your clothes to be stacked on edge, side by side, so that when you pull open your drawer you can see the edge of every item inside. If you find that the end result is the right shape but too loose and floppy to stand up, it's a sign that your way of folding doesn't match the type of clothing. Every piece of clothing has its own "sweet spot" where it feels just right [bold in the original] —a folded state that best suits that item. This will differ depending on the type of material and size of the clothing, and therefore you will need to adjust your method until you find what works. This isn't difficult. By adjusting the height when folded so that it stands properly, you'll reach the sweet spot surprisingly easily.

(Marie Kondo: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying up, pp. 75-77)

Folding socks is even easier. If you've folded back the tops, start by unfolding them. Place one sock on top of the other and follow the same principles as those for folding clothing. For low-cut socks that just cover the feet, folding twice is enough; for ankle socks, three times; for knee socks and over-knee socks, four to six times. You can adjust the number of folds to achieve the height that best suits the drawer. It's easy. Just aim to make a simple rectangle, the key to folding. Store the socks on edge, just as you did fot clothing. You'll be amazed at how little space you need compared to your "potato ball days," and you'll notice your socks breathing a sigh of relief at being untied.

(Marie Kondo: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying up, pp. 82-83)

On unread books:

The most common reason for not discarding a book is "I might read it again." Take a moment to count the number of favorite books that you have actually read more than once. How many are there? For some it may be as few as five while for some exceptional readers it may be as many as one hundred. People who reread that many, however, are usually people in specific professions, such as scholars and authors. Very rarely will you find ordinary people like me who read so many books. Let's face it. In the end, you are going to read very few of your books again [bold in the original]. As with clothing, we need to stop and think about what purpose these books serve.

Books are essentially paper —sheets of paper printed with letters and bound together. Their true purpose is to be read, to convery information to their readers. It's the information they contain that has meaning. There is no meaning in their just being on your shelves. Books you have read have already been experienced and their content is inside you, even if you don't remember. So when deciding which books to keep, forget about whether you think you'll read it again or whether you've mastered what's inside. Instead, take each book in your hand and decide whether it moves you or not. Keep only those books that will make you happy just to see them on your shelves, the ones that you really love. That includes this book, too. If you don't feel any joy when you hold it in your hand, I would rather you discard it.

What about books that you have started but not yet finished reading? Or books you bought but have not yet started? What should be done with books like these that you intend to read sometime? The Internet has made it easy to purchase books, but as a consequence, it sems to me that people have far more unread books than they once did, ranging from three to more than forty. It is not uncommon for people to purchase a book and then buy another one not long after, before they have read the first one. Unread books accumulate. The problem with books that we intend to read sometime is that they are far harder to part with than ones we have already read.

(Marie Kondo: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying up, pp. 89-90)

If you missed your chance to read a particular book, even if it was recommended to you or is one you have been intending to read for ages, this is your chance to let it go. You may have wanted to read it when you bought it, but if you haven't read it by now, the book's purpose was to teach you that you didn't need it. There's no need to finish reading books that you only got halfway through. Their purpose was to be read halfway. So get rid of all those unread books. It will be far better for you to read the book that really grabs you right now than one that you left to gather dust for years.

(Marie Kondo: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying up, p. 91)

My basic principle for sorting papers is to throw them all away. My clients are stunned when I saw this, but there is nothing more annoying than papers. After all, they will never inspire joy, no matter how carefully you keep them. For this reason, I recommend you dispose of anything that does not fall into one of three categories: currently in use, needed for a limited period of time, or must be kept indefinitely [bold in the original].

(Marie Kondo: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying up, pp. 96-97)

On gifts:

But let's consider this more carefully. Most of these gifts remain unopened or have been used only once. Admit it. They simply don't suit your taste. The true purpose of a present is to be received. [italics in the original] Presents are not "things" but a means for converying someone's feelings. [bold in the original] When viewed from this perspective, you don't need to feel guilty for parting with a gift. Just thank it for the joy it gave you when you first received it. Of course, it would be ideal if you could use it with joy. But surely the person who gave it to you doesn't want you to use it out of a sense of obligation, or to put it away without using it, only to feel guilty every time you see it. When you discard or donate it, you do so for the sake of the giver, too.

(Marie Kondo: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying up, p. 108)

Another item that is just as difficult to discard is keepsakes from one's children. A Father's Day present with the words "Thanks, Dad." A picture your son drew that was selected by the teacher to hang in the school hall, or an ashtray your daughter made. If these things still bring you joy, it is fine to keep them. But if your children are already grown and you are keeping them because you think discarding them will hurt your children's feelings, ask them. They are quite likely to say, "What? You still have that? Go ahead and get rid of it."

And what about things from your own childhood? Do you still keep your report cards or graduation certificates? When my client pulled out a school uniform from forty years ago, even I felt my heart constrict with emotion. But it still should be disposed of. Let all those letters you received years ago from a girlfriend or boyfriend go. By now, the person who wrote it has long forgotten what he or she wrote and even the letter's very existence. As for accessories you received as gifts, keep them only if they bring you pure joy. If you are keeping them because you can't forget a former boyfriend, it's better to dicard or donate them. Hanging on to them makes itmore likely that you will miss opportunities for new relationships.

It is not our memories but the person we have become because of those past experiences that we should treasure. This is the lesson these keepsakes teach us when we sort them. The space in which we live should be for the person we are becoming now, not for the person we were in the past.

(Marie Kondo: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying up, pp. 117-118)

What is the perfect amount of possessions? I think that most people don't know. If you have lived in Japan or the United States all your life, you have almost certainly been surrounded by far more than you need. This makes it hard for many people to imagine how much they need to live comfortably. As you reduce your belongings through the process of tidying, you will come to a point where you suddenly know how much is just right for you. [bold in the original] You will feel it as clearly as if something has clicked inside your head and said, "Ah! This is just the amount I need to live comfortably. This is all I need to be happy. I don't need anything more." The satisfaction that envelops your whole being at that point is palpable. I call this the "just-right click point." Interestingly, once you have passed this point, you'll find that the amount you own never increases. And that is precisely why you will never rebound.

The click point differs from one person to another. For a shoe lover, it might be one hundred pairs of shoes, while a book lover might not need anything but books. Some people, like me, have more loungewear than clothes for going out, while others may prefer to go naked in the home and therefore have no loungewear at all. (You'd be surprised at how many fall into this latter category.)

As you put your house in order and decrease your possessions, you'll see what your true values are, what is really important to you in your life. But don't focus on reducing, or on efficient storage methods, for that matter. Focus instead on choosing the things that inspire joy and on enjoying life according to your own standards. This is the true pleasure of tidying. If you have not yet felt a click, don't worry. You can still reduce. Tackle this job with confidence.

(Marie Kondo: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying up, pp. 124-125)

The point in deciding specific places to keep things is to designate a spot for every thing. [bold and italics in the original] You may think, "It would take me forever to do that," but you don't need to worry. Although it seems like deciding on a place for every item must be complicated, it's far simpler than deciding what to keep and what to discard. Since you have already decided what to keep according to type of item and since those items all belong to the same category, all you need to do is store them near each other.

The reason every item must hace a designated place is because the existence of an item without a home multiplies the chances that your space will become cluttered again. Let's say, for example, that you have a shelf with nothing on it. What happens if someone leaves an object that has no designated spot on that shelf? That one item will become your downfal. Within no time that space, which had maintained a sense of order, will be covered with objects, as if someone had yelled "Gather round, everybody!"

You only need to designate a spot for every time once. Try it. You'll be amazed at the results. No longer will you buy more than you need. No longer will the things you own continue to accumulate. In fact, your stock on hand will decrease. The essence of effective storage is this: designate a spot for every last thing you own. If you ignore this basic principle and start experimenting with the vast range of storage ideas being promoted, you will be sorry. Those storage "solutions" are really just prisons within which to bury possessions that spark no joy.

(Marie Kondo: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying up, pp. 131-132)

Most people realize that clutter is caused by too much stuff. But why do we have too much stuff? Usually it is because we do not accurately grasp how much we actually own. And we fail to grasp how much we own because our storage methods are too complex. The ability to avoid excess stock depends on the ability to simplify storage. The secret to maintaining an uncluttered room is to pursue ultimate simplicity in storage [bold in the original] so that you can tell at a glance how much you have. I say "ultimate simplicity" for a reason. It is impossible to remember the existence of every item we own even when we simplify our storage methods. There are still times in my own house, where I have worked hard to keep storage simple, that I notice an item I had completely forgotten about in a closet or drawer. If my storage were more complex —for example, if I divided my things into three levels according to frequency of use or according to season— I am sure that many more items would be left to rot in the darkness. Therefore, it makes more sense to keep storage as simple as possible.

(Marie Kondo: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying up, p. 137)

For the reasons described above, my storage method is extremely simple. I have only two rules: store all items of the same type in the same place and don't scatter storage space. [bold in the original]

There are only two ways of categorizing belongings: by type of item and by person. This is easy to graps if you consider someone who lives alone as opposed to someone who lives with family. If you live alone or have a room of your own, storage is very simple —just designate one place for storing each type of item. You can keep categories to a minimum by following those used for sorting. Start with clothes, then books, then documents, komono, and finally mementos. If you are sorting your things in this order, you can store each category in its own designated spot as soon as you have chosen what to keep.

You can even categorize more loosely than that. Instead of dividing your things by detailed type, use broad similarities in material, such as "cloth-like," "paper-like," and "things that are electrical," as your criteria and choose one place for each of these. This is much easier than trying to visualize where you might use an object or the frequency with which you use it. With my method, you will be able to categorize your things more accurately.

If yu have already been selecting what to keep on the basis of what speaks to your heart, then you will understand what I mean because you have already collected items by category, spread them out in one spot, and held them in your hand to make your decision. The work you have been doing has actually honed your ability to sense what belongs together and to choose appropriate places for storing them.

If you live with your family, first clearly define separate storage spaces for each family member. [bold in the original] This is essential. For example, you can designate separate closets for you, your husband, and your children, and store whatever belongs to each person in his or her respective closet. That's all you need to do. The important point here is to designate only one place per person if at all possible. In other words, storage should be focused in one spot. If storage places are spread around, the entire house will become cluttered in no time. To concentrate the belongings of each person in one spot is the most effective way for keeping storage tidy.

(Marie Kondo: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying up, p. 138-139)

A common mistak many people make is to decide where to store things on the basis of where it's easiest to take them out. This approach is a fatal trap. Clutter is caused by a failure to return things to where they belong. Therefore, storage should reduce the effort needed to put things way, not the effort needed to get them out. [bold in the original] When we use something, we have a clear purpose for getting it out. Unless for some reason it is incredibly hard work, we usually don't mind the effort involved. Clutter has only two possible causes: too much effort is required to put things away or it is unclear where things belong. If we overlook this vital point, we are likely to create a system that results in clutter. For people like me who are naturally lazy, I strongly recommend focusing storage in one spot. More often than not, the notion that it's more convenient to keep everything within arm's reach is a biased assumption.

(Marie Kondo: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying up, pp. 141-142)

I store things vertically and avoid stacking for two reasons. First, if you stack things, you end up with what seems like inexhaustible storage space. Things can be stacked forever and endlessly on top, which makes it harder to notice the increasing volume. In contrast, when things are stored vertically, any increase takes up space and you will eventually run out of storage area. When you do, you'll notice, "Ah, I'm starting to accumulate stuff again."

The other reason is this: stacking is very hard on the things at the bottom. [bold in the original] When things are piled on top of one another, the things underneath get squished. Stacking weakens and exhausts the things that bear the weight of the pile. Just imagine how you would feel if you were forced to carry a heavy load for hours. Not only that, but the things in the pile virtually disappear because we forget that they even exist. When we pile our clothes one on top of the other, the clothes at the bottom are used less and less frequently. The outfits that no longer thrill my clients even though they loved them at the time of purchase are very often the ones that spent a long time at the bottom of the pile.

(Marie Kondo: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying up, p. 145)

On commercial storage solutions:

People often ask me what I recommend, no doubt expecting me to reveal some hitherto secret storage weapon. But I can tell you right now: there is no need to buy dividers or any other gadget. You can solve your storage problems with things you already have in the house. The most common item I use is an empty shoebox. I have tried all kinds of storage products, but have never found any other that is free and still surpasses the shoebox. It gets above average marks for all five of my criteria: size, material, durability, ease of use, and attractiveness. These well-balanced attributes and its versatility are its greatest merits. Shoes come in boxes with cute designs as well. I frequently ask my clients, "Do you have any shoeboxes?" when I visit their homes.

(Marie Kondo: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying up, p. 147)

On the bathroom:

There is no need to keep soaps and shampoos out when we are not using them, and the added exposure to heat and moisture when they aren't in use is bound to affect their quality. It is therefore my policy to keep everything out of the bath or shower. Whatever is used in the bath should be dried after use anyway, so it makes far more sense to just wipe down the few items we use with our bath towel and then put them away in the cupboard. While this may seem like more work at first glance, it is actually less. It is much quicker and easier to clean the bath or shower without these items cluttering that space, and there will be less slime buildup.

(Marie Kondo: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying up, p. 158)

Tidying dramatically changes one's life. This is true for everyone, 100 percent. The impact of this effect, which I have dubbed "the magic of tidying," is phenomenal. Sometimes I ask my clients how their lives changed after taking the course. Although I have grown accustomed to their answers, in the beginning even I was surprised. The lives of those who tidy thoroughly and completely, in a single shot, are without exception dramatically altered. [bold in the original]

(Marie Kondo: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying up, p. 178)

"Discard anything that doesn't spark joy." If you have tried this method even a little, you have realized by now that it is not that difficult to identify something that brings you joy. The moment you touch it, you know the answer. It is much more difficult to decide to discard something. We come up with all kinds of reasons for not doing it, such as "I didn't use this particular pot all year, but who knows, I might need it sometime..." or "That necklace my boyfriend gave me, I really liked it at the time..." But when we really delve into the reasons for why we can't let something go, there are only two: an attachment to the past or a fear for the future. [bold in the original]

During the selection process, if you come across something that does not spark joy but that you just can't bring yourself to throw away, stop a moment and ask yourself, "Am I having trouble getting rid of this because of an attachment to the past or because of a fear of the future?" Ask this for every one of these items. As you do so, you'll begin to see a pattern in your ownership of things, a pattern that falls into one of three categories: attachment to the past, desire for stability in the future, or a combination of both. It's important to understand your ownership pattern because it is an expression of the values that guide your life. The question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life. [bold in the original] Attachment to the past and fears concerning the future not only govern the way you select the things you own but also represent the criteria by which you make choices in every aspect of your life, including your relationships with people and your job.

(Marie Kondo: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying up, pp, 181-182)

Of course, I am not saying that my clients have never regretted discarding something. Far from it. You should expect this to happen at least three times during the tidying process, but don't let it worry you. Even though my clients have regretted parting with something, they never complain. They have already learned through experience that any problem caused by lack of something can be solved through action. When my clients relate the experience of getting rid of something they shouldn't have, they all sound extremely cheerful. Most of them laugh and say, "For a moment I thought I was in trouble, but then I realized it wasn't life threatening." This attitude does not stem from an optimistic personality nor does it mean they have become careless in their response to missing something. Rather, it shows that by selecting what to discard, they have changed their mind-set.

What if, for ecample, they need the contents of a document that they disposed of earlier? First, because they have already pared down the amount of documents they own, they can quickly confirm that they do not have it, without having to search all over. The fact that they do not need to search is actually an invaluable stress reliever. [bold in the original] One of the reasons clutter east away at us is because we have to search for something just to find out whether it's even there, and many times, no matter how much we search, we cannot seem to find what we are looking for. When we have reduced the amount we own and store our documents all in the same place, we can tell at a glance whether we have it or not. If it's gone, we can shift gears immediately and start thinking about what to do. We can ask someone we know, call the company, or look up the information ourselves. Once we have come up with a solution, we have no choice but to act. And when we do, we notice that the problem is often solved surprisingly easily.

Instead of suffering from the stress of looking and not finding, we take action, and these actions often lead to unexpected benefits. When we search for the content elsewhere, we may discover new information. When we contact a friend, we may deepen that relationship or he or she may introduce us to someone who is well versed in the field. Repeated experiences like these teach us that if we take action we will be able to obtain the necessary information when we need it. Life becomes far easier once you know that things will still work out even if you are lacking something. [bold in the original]

(Marie Kondo: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying up, pp. 186-187)

We amass material things for the same reason that we eat —to satisfy a craving. Buying on impulse and eating and drinking to excess are attempts to alleviate stress. From observing my clients, I have noticed that when they part with excess clothing, their tummies tend to slim down, when they discard books and documents, their minds tend to become clearer, when they reduce the numbers of cosmetics and tidy up the area around the sink and bath, their complexion tends to become clear and their skin smooth. Although I have no scientific basis for this theiry, it is very interesting to see that the part of the body responding corresponds closely to the area that is put in order. Isn't it wonderful that tidying your house can also enhance your beauty and contribute to a healthier, trimmer body?

(Marie Kondo: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying up, p. 195)

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