Being surrounded by things that spark joy makes you happy - The magic of tidying dramatically transforms your life

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing - Marie Kondo 2014

Being surrounded by things that spark joy makes you happy
The magic of tidying dramatically transforms your life

Everyone has things that they love, things that they cannot imagine parting with, even though other people shake their heads in disbelief when they see them. I see the things that other people find precious every day, and you would be amazed at the strange and incomprehensible articles that capture people’s hearts—a set of ten finger puppets each with one eye only and every eye different, a broken alarm clock shaped like the Morinaga Noobow character, a driftwood collection that looks more like a heap of scrap wood. But the immediate response to my hesitant, “Does this … um, really spark joy?” is an emphatic “Yes!” There is no arguing with their confident gaze and shining eyes because I, too, have one such item: my Kiccoro T-shirt.

Kiccoro (“Forest Child”) was one of two official mascots for Aichi Expo 2005, which promoted love for the earth and renewable, eco-friendly technology. The larger mascot, Morizo, is perhaps better known. Kiccoro was Morizo’s sidekick, a little, lime green, roly-poly character, and my T-shirt shows only Kiccoro’s face. I wear it around the house all the time. It is one thing that I just cannot bring myself to part with, even if people were to ridicule me, saying, “How can you keep this? Aren’t you embarrassed? How can you wear that? You should throw it away.”

Let me be clear. The clothes I wear at home are generally cute and pretty. I usually wear girly things, such as camisoles with layers of pink frills and flower-print cotton ensembles, around the house. The only exception is my Kiccoro T-shirt. It is quite a curious article, shocking green in color with just Kiccoro’s eyes and half-open, full-lipped mouth, and the tag clearly indicates that it’s a children’s size. As the Expo was held in 2005, I’ve been wearing it for many years even though I have no sentimental memories from the event itself. Just reading what I’ve written here makes me feel embarrassed to be hanging on to such a thing, yet whenever I see it, I can’t bring myself to throw it away. My heart starts beating faster as soon as I see Kiccoro’s lovely round eyes.

The contents of my drawers are organized so that I can see at a glance what’s there. This T-shirt sticks out like a sore thumb among all my graceful, feminine clothes, yet that just makes it more endearing. It’s so old now, you would think that it would be stretched out of shape or stained, but it’s not, so I can’t find any excuse in that area for discarding it. The fact that the tag declares it was made in some other country even though it was a Japanese expo could have ruined its appeal for me, yet I still can’t throw it away.

These are the types of things you should boldly hang on to. If you can say without a doubt, “I really like this!” no matter what anyone else says, and if you like yourself for having it, then ignore what other people think. To tell the truth, I would not want anyone else to see me wearing my Kiccoro T-shirt. But I keep it for the little joys it gives me, the giggle I get when I take it out and look at it all on my own, the contentment I feel when Kiccoro and I are sweating together as we clean and wondering what to tackle next.

I can think of no greater happiness in life than to be surrounded only by the things I love. How about you? All you need to do is to get rid of anything that doesn’t touch your heart. There is no simpler way to contentment. What else could this be called but “the magic of tidying”?