Tidying Up is Helping Me to Live My Best Life

The beginning of a new year. It’s a new chapter in life, a new start, a new chance. It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life… You get my point. 

For me, I made the New Year’s resolution to rid my life of all the things weighing me down, to part ways with things I don’t need anymore, so I can live my best life. 

And then I discovered the magic of tidying up, courtesy of Marie Kondo. 

To say I’m obsessed is an understatement. For those of you who aren’t aware of her and her methods (which you should be because she is literary everywhere now and has a totally addictive Netflix show), Marie Kondo is a tidying up master, who, in her self-help cleaning guide titled “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” teaches us to reevaluate our relationship with things and to only keep items that make us happy and bring us positivity in life — things that “spark joy.” 

As we go through our personal items, starting with clothes and working all the way to very special sentimental items, we touch each item and determine whether it “sparks joy,” or brings us happiness and a rush of excitement. It’s all about the feelings that an item elicits. When we find those items that “spark joy,” we hold on to those items, but when we encounter something that doesn’t spark that rush, we take a moment to thank that item for what it has provided for us and the joy it used to bring, and delicately let it go. 

The KonMari Method, named after Kondo, is all about choosing joy, and while it has become extremely popular with pictures of individuals practicing the method flooding our social media feeds, the KonMari Method is particularly effective because it places importance on being introspective and, from there, being forward-thinking about your ideal lifestyle. 

When I started watching the Netflix show, I instantly knew I needed to start KonMari-ing all of my belongings. 

I usually consider myself a rather neat and organized person, but lately I had this feeling of anxiousness every time that I would step into my closet — almost a sense of claustrophobia. It made me feel overwhelmed seeing all of the items that had accumulated there — mainly due to the fact that I put things in there, because, well you know how the saying goes: out of sight, out of mind. Well, it was only out of mind until I opened my closet door. 

Considering that I had made the promise to myself to rid my life of all the things weighing me down, I decided that I wouldn’t let all of these materialistic things bring me any more anxiety. 

And so here it went. 

What makes the KonMari method different than other tidying up methods is that it forces you to focus on categories — starting with clothes, then moving on to books, papers, miscellaneous items, and sentimental items — rather than individual rooms one at a time. According to Kondo, going through rooms one by one instead of focusing on categories throughout the whole home will doom us to be forever trying to tidy our homes. As you move through each category, you take items from the category and place it in a pile, spreading the items out so you can witness just how much you have and can begin to inspect each item one by one. 

Starting with the first category, I arranged all of my clothes together. As I picked up the first item in my hand, I asked myself the very important question: Does this spark joy?

It was an old pair of pants that I had not worn in ages, but that, at one time, I had worn quite frequently. In fact, they used to be a favorite of mine, as I loved the bright shade of red that always made me feel confident, and the adorable little trio of buttons on the bottom of each pant leg. But the pants, which at one time had sparked so much joy, no longer did. And so, I did what Kondo instructed: I thanked the pair of pants for all the joy that it had provided me, how it had made me feel confident in myself when I wore them, and for all of the great days it saw me through. 

And as I held the pants in my hands while thanking them, I felt a sense of calmness rush over me, a sense of peace. I had come to terms with the fact that these pants got me through one period of my life, but as Kondo discusses in her method, I did not see them carrying through to the next period in my life, to where I was heading. 

I gingerly folded the pants and placed them in a bag for me to give away. 

After making my way through all of my clothing, I moved on to books and papers. Starting on my books first, I suddenly realized that I had so. many. books. 

As I went through them, I didn’t know why I had even kept half of them. I identified which books didn’t spark joy for me, and put them in a bag to be donated. But then I had encountered a bump in the road, as I began to question whether I should really let go of some of the books. I didn’t necessarily feel a sort of spark when I saw them, but I still felt some sort of attachment. But I took a deep breath and decided that if they did give me that overwhelming spark of joy, then it was time to let them go, and I thanked them. In the end, I only ended up with a handful of books that had truly meant something to me and brought me joy. 

As I moved on to papers, I had already significantly honed in on my ability to truly determine what really beings joy to me and what does not bring that spark anymore. So many of my papers consisted of old notes, notebooks, and old music from my high school years — all items that did not bring me any joy. So of course besides keeping my important documents, I let these other papers go, completely cleaning out a whole storage bin. 

By this time, I had completely mastered my ability to distinguish what sparks joy and what doesn’t, and I was able to move through the last categories with ease, letting go of old trinkets and cards that no longer brought me that rush of excitement and happiness. 

In the end, I felt a huge sense of relief. I felt less anxious, less weighed down. The KonMari method helped me to reevaluate my relationship with things, and to only keep those things that really, truly bring joy to me. But most importantly, I felt that this process allowed me to really examine my feelings and myself in general, and to recognize where I have been and where I plan to go. 

So maybe Marie Kondo is right — tidying your space really can transform your life. Because this year, I’m going to be living my best life. 

Emily Veith

Emily has her bachelor's degree in Political Science, and has always believed in helping and serving others. She wants to make the world a better place, and aspires to be a politician someday to do just that. She is an old soul who loves Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Glenn Miller. When she isn't writing about imperative news- and political-related, she can be found attempting new recipes, playing her guitar or reading a good mystery book.

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