In her book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, Marie Kondo writes, “People cannot change their habits without first changing their way of thinking.” (pg. 15) Good heavens Marie, that sounds like work, not magic! Marie knows all of our bad habits and how hard they are to change, but she found success in tidying up by changing her own thinking first. She challenges her clients to explore their relationships with their possessions, and that is powerful. Ultimately, perhaps she is right. Habits do start with how we think about something, whether we realize it or not. What we value, what we are willing to put our time toward, and what we allow space in both our mind and our home are all worth evaluating.
In many regards, this is simply a well focused exercise in living mindfully. Marie doesn’t tell her clients what to keep or discard. There is no judgment concerning what clients value, only instructions to face each category of belongings in an organized fashion. The client is left doing all the heavy lifting of deciding what remains and what is let go on this personal path of change. Many of Marie’s clients were able to make life changing decisions after tidying their homes. One change it seems can lead to many others.
All of this is encouraging to me as I continue to read and reread her book. I have stopped searching for that “magic” teased in the title. This is not the illusory effortless magic of abracadabra. Instead it is the real magical work of allowing change in our thinking and our actions. It is the magic that calls us home to ourselves.
I believe what Kondo studies in terms of habits. We are a human breed that absolutely loves the familiar. I say this because what’s familiar keeps my equilibrium stable enough to stand on. But therein lies the problem. We cant see the familiar anymore, its blended into us, blended into our context so we make all kinds of evaluations based on our “stable Stuff”. I have caught myself making Idle comments, leaning with political winds and resorting to ” well, if it was good enough for me” than it must be good enough !
I think Kondo is right in suggesting change through renovating your home world, even in small ways, to pave a new path or create a reflection of who you could become.
I use my sketchbooks to alter my style. I force some special effects ( spray paint) that make me very uneasy, for a while.
Thank you, Lisa for motivating me to read that book. A friend told me about it several years ago, and said it has helped make her life more simple and meaningful. I am sure I will balk at the work that is required to make this personal growth, but think the results would be well worth the effort.
Loved this reflection! I have listened to her book twice now and have found a path in my own life of steady reflective thinking on what brings me joy… truly.. and daily… and that has helped me let go of a lot of things I never really knew were holding me back. And much of the process has turned into how I think about things… great writing Lisa – thanks for sharing!