Because Big Surprises Do Come From Small Packages
I never thought that I would learn big life lessons from one thin book – not more than 90 pages long – which, surprisingly, isn’t even about life at all.
How can a little paperback that’s all about decluttering seem to speak about how we live our lives as well?
I picked Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up out of whim one day as I was browsing through a local bookstore (see where to find in sheknows.com). I’ve long wanted to learn a magical way or two to deal with the clutter my family has at home, and the title does claim that. So, I bought it, brought it home with me and read it for the better part of the afternoon.
It was that short. And it was that impactful.
Aside from the decluttering techniques I learned from it, I garnered these three vital lessons in life as well.
Don’t Be A Hoarder! Throw What You Have To Throw Away.
Author Marie Kondo, who has built a professional career out of decluttering, stressed out in her book (check this out) that before we can put things in order, we need to discard what requires discarding. These are the things that are of no use to us presently, but we hold on to due to guilt, we think we can still use them in the future, fear and, most importantly, because of sentimental meanings.
This is the same with life. We have so much emotional clutter because we hold on to the what-ifs, the could-haves and the many if-I-did scenarios in our lives. Over time, they turn into emotional chains that hold us down. Just as physical decluttering results to a cleaner and more orderly home, emotional decluttering brings cleansing and order in our hearts and minds.
Dubai’s LightHouse Arabia Centre for Wellbeing’s clinical psychologist, Tara Wyne, PsyD emphasized the importance of letting go. “Letting go liberates our energy and resources. When you have truly accepted and then let something go, it loses its power over you, and if that issue is ever triggered inadvertently, you won’t have the sensation of Alice falling down a rabbit hole repeatedly.”
The Little Things That We Have But We Love Better Than Having More But Which We Don’t Like.
One of Marie Kondo’s secret to keeping an orderly home day after day is possessing things that may be lesser in number, but she truly loves. She stressed out the idea that if we don’t like the stuff we have, it’s better if we discard it as love brings contentment. This is very contrary to the secular ideology that having more makes you a better person.
Contentment is not supposed to be measured by how much we have. Rather, it is dictated by our internal self. Stephen Joseph, PhD, wrote, “Feeling good about ourselves is important to a contented life. But the secret to feeling good about ourselves is unconditional self-acceptance.”
Moreover, Alice Boyes, PhD, said, “Decluttering creates a sense of confidence and self-efficacy (seeing yourself as competent).”
Kondo’s idea speaks genuinely in life. What’s the use of having many friends when you can trust only a few? Or what good is a lot of money when you earned it by sacrificing the time you’re supposed to spend with your family? Love plays an essential role in the choices you make and the priorities you have in life. Let that be your guide.
Don’t Overcomplicate Joy. It’s Simple.
“Does this give me joy?”
This should be the yardstick of our possessions in life; Kondo pointed out. Feel the item, hold it in your hands and ask yourself the question mentioned above. If the answer is yes, keep it. If the answer is no, however, you have to discard it even if you haven’t gotten to use it before.
“If you make your guilt for not using a certain thing your standard measurement for keeping them, you’re going to end up with clutter as much as you have discarded earlier in this process,” Kondo wrote.
The question holds right with how we should deal with our lives. “Does this give me joy?” is the ultimate question we need to ask ourselves when we make our decisions, not on how much we’ll be earning if we take on this so-and-so job or what benefits we’ll be acquiring if we do this or that. Joy isn’t something we should attach to things, people or even memories.
I’ve long since given my little decluttering book away. I’m hoping that its new owner will find gems of wisdom from its pages like I did when I read it.