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The magic of tidying up

  The magic of tidying up | RISING*SHINING

When I started reading The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up I didn't think I had much to learn from the book. After all, we had already gone through our entire house with the aim of only keeping what is functional or beautiful and work to have every item in the house have a "home". But I was wrong! I ended up loving The Life Changing Magic and it spurred a second wave of minimizing in our house after I told Chris about what I learned. We went through lots of our stuff - again - and we were both able to let go of more stuff, especially books and clothes. We consolidated to one shelving unit in the garage.

The magic of tidying up | RISING*SHINING The magic of tidying up | RISING*SHINING

I love the author's philosophy that if an item doesn't bring you joy then you should let it go. This is a simple but powerful barometer that I am now using to decide whether or not to keep something. I have been recommending The Life Changing Magic to many people. My mom, sister and I have been texting pictures of our minimized closets and implementation of the vertical clothes storage that the book recommends. YES.

I will admit that the author, at times, seems a bit too fanatical. Such as the way she would, apparently, come home from school in elementary school and organize not only her room but also her sibling's rooms using the latest techniques that she read in women's magazines. Whoa. But overall the book really resonated with me and I found myself highlighting several passages. Here are my favorite lessons from the book:

"When you tidy your space completely you transform the scenery. The change is so profound that you feel as if you are living in a totally different world...The same impact can never be achieve if the process is gradual."

I agree with significant impact that minimizing or "tidying" can have and that evaluating your possessions in one fell swoop, or at least over a set time period, is the best way to go. We did our initial minimizing over about a month last summer. If you don't complete the process it's too easy to start accumulating again or to not find a "home" for each item you keep. We found that we naturally wanted to minimize all at once and had a lot of momentum once we started. We would look forward to organizing the garage or our closets after we had put Dashiell to bed.

"To truly cherish the things that are important to you, you must first discard those that have outlived their purpose. To get rid of what you no longer need is neither wasteful or shameful."

I do find myself placing more value on what I have and carefully considering new items that I might acquire.

"My basic principle for sorting papers is to throw them all away."

We took this to heart in our most recent wave of minimizing. We went through our (already minimized) paper files and re-evaluated what we needed to keep. Everything is electronic today and so we decided we really didn't need all those papers we receive from our mortgage and insurance companies. We only kept essential documents relating to our mortgage, insurance and taxes.

On sentimentality: "Presents are not 'things' but a means for conveying someone's feelings." and "Truly precious memories will never vanish even if you discard the objects associated with them."

I read these philosophies with such relief. I've never expressed sentimentality by holding on to things and yet sometimes I feel an obligation to keep things even if they don't bring me joy. These statements gave me permission to part with things I was holding on to out of obligation and it felt so good. I love her reasoning that a present that you don't really love doesn't have to be kept; it served its purpose by conveying love and care from the person who gifted it and doesn't need to be kept if it doesn't bring you joy. 

"Everything you own wants to be of use to you. Even if you throw it away or burn it, it will only leave behind the energy of wanting to be of service." And when we part with something say, "Thank you for finding me,' or 'Have a good journey. See you again soon!'"

Framing getting rid of stuff in this way is helping me eliminate the guilt and wastefulness that I feel when I get rid of something, especially something that I purchased and never really used. I love the thought of sending unneeded items off to their next purpose and that even in getting rid of them they are being useful to you.

"You will never use spare buttons."

I had to laugh at how specific and true this statement is. I got rid of all my spare buttons during our summer minimizing but I had been collecting them for years and never once used one.

"Greet your house every time you come home."

When we leave the house I frequently say, "Bye, house!" and when we return, "Hi, house!" as we walk in the door. Sometimes Dashiell joins me. I'm not sure when or why I started doing this but I do feel that it creates a friendly atmosphere in the house. It was so interesting to read that this is something the author recommends doing.

On clutter: "What happens if someone leaves an object that has no designated spot on that shelf? That one item will become your downfall." and "Clutter has only two possible causes: too much effort is required to put things away or it is unclear where things belong."

As with many statements, I read these and thought, "Yes!" She put into words phenomenon that I have experienced so many times but never thought it through and identified a pattern that I could address. 

How tidying/minimizing goes deeper than just your stuff: "People who lack confidence in their judgement lack confidence in themselves." and "The question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life."

I found both of these statements to be interesting and powerful.

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If you've read The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up I'd love to know your thoughts!