The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing - Marie Kondo 2014
Your possessions want to help you
The magic of tidying dramatically transforms your life
I have spent more than half my life thinking about tidying. I visit people’s homes every day and spend time confronting their possessions. I do not think there is any other profession in which I would be able to see everything a person owns or examine the contents of closets and drawers, just as they are. Although I have visited many homes, naturally no one’s possessions or way of organizing is identical. Yet all these possessions share one thing in common. Think about why you have the things you do. If you answer, “Because I chose them,” “Because I need them,” or “Because of a variety of coincidences,” all of these responses would be correct. But without exception, all the things you own share the desire to be of use to you. I can say this with certainty because I have examined very carefully hundreds of thousands of possessions in my career as a tidying consultant.
When examined carefully, the fate that links us to the things we own is quite amazing. Take just one shirt, for example. Even if it was mass-produced in a factory, that particular shirt that you bought and brought home on that particular day is unique to you. The destiny that led us to each one of our possessions is just as precious and sacred as the destiny that connected us with the people in our lives. There is a reason why each one of your belongings came to you. When I share this perspective, some people say, “I neglected this outfit so long it’s all wrinkled. It must be pretty indignant with me,” or “If I don’t use it, it will curse me.” But from my own experience, I have never encountered any possession that reproached its owner. These thoughts stem from the owner’s sense of guilt, not from the person’s belongings. Then what do the things in our homes that don’t spark joy actually feel? I think they simply want to leave. Lying forgotten in your closet, they know better than anyone else that they are not bringing joy to you now.
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. Freed from its physical form, it will move about your world as energy, letting other things know that you are a special person, and come back to you as the thing that will be of most use to who you are now, the thing that will bring you the most happiness. A piece of clothing might come back as a new and beautiful outfit, or it may reappear as information or a new connection. I promise you: whatever you let go will come back in exactly the same amount, but only when it feels the desire to return to you. For this reason, when you part with something, don’t sigh and say, “Oh, I never used this,” or “Sorry I never got around to using you.” Instead, send it off joyfully with words like, “Thank you for finding me,” or “Have a good journey. See you again soon!”
Get rid of those things that no longer spark joy. Make your parting a ceremony to launch them on a new journey. Celebrate this occasion with them. I truly believe that our possessions are even happier and more vibrant when we let them go than when we first get them.