As I’ve gotten older I’ve found that I really enjoy simplicity and making things streamlined. In fact, recently, my home (and my life) has been transformed by the most unexpected treasure: to tidy up.
I didn’t even know I needed the gift of tidying up (and I certainly didn’t appreciate it as a child). But tidying up has been an incredible way for me to create a more simple life.
This is more–way more!–than a post on cleaning or organizing. I promise that the tidy up mindset will reduce stress and increase peace, joy and calm in your home (and don’t we all need more of that?!).
And now I want to share this incredible mindset–popularized by a book that explains this life changing magic of tidying up–so that you can have a more simple life. Read on to discover how tidying up can change your life too.
The Tidy Up Secret That I Wasn’t Looking For
She handed me the book at Thanksgiving and I rolled my eyes.
“The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up?” I said, with more than a little disdain in my voice.
“Yes!” my mom cried, chuckling a little. “I’m telling you, it’s an incredible book! You’ve got to take a look at it.”
I held the book in my hands and quickly leafed through the heavily highlighted pages covered with many sticky notes and my mom’s familiar handwriting.
An organizing book? What was she trying to say? Is my house that much of a mess? I was not convinced this was something I needed to read, let alone implement in this hectic life season.
I found myself a little later that afternoon in my parent’s living room with no one else around. My mom’s usual assortment of housekeeping magazines wasn’t on the endtable. In fact, the table was completely empty except for the lamp, a lonely coaster… and that book.
Alright, fine, I mused to myself. Let’s take a look at this.
The Tidy Up Secret: “Does It Still Bring Me Joy?”
The first few pages weren’t honestly that transformational for me. Another organizing book, another woman with the “perfect answer” for how to keep your home tidy. Yawn.
But then I sensed something different lurking between the pages. Author Marie Kondo‘s criteria for keeping or discarding items was something I’d never heard before. She simply asks herself, “Does this item still bring me joy?”
This got my attention. Joy? That was something I spent much time pursuing as a mom and Christ-follower. What was this link between my stuff and my joy level? And why had she elevated this to be the highest criterion for determining if something should stay in my house or hit the Goodwill pile?
I kept reading. In fact, I took the book home the next day and devoured its short 224 pages (confession: I can’t remember the last time I’ve finished a non-fiction book this quickly. It was that interesting!)
The more I read, the more I was convinced that this book’s wisdom was the anecdote to the subtle fog of discontent and restlessness that’d settled over my heart recently.
The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up (That I Didn’t Know I Needed)
I hadn’t been sad or depressed or anything of that sort. But for quite some time I’d been dealing with a sluggishness–a malaise–that left me confused and frustrated. Things in my life had been good (a great marriage, awesome kids, stable future, strong faith, etc) and yet, for months I couldn’t shake the weight I felt on my heart.
That same phrase “Does it still bring you joy?” kept appearing throughout the book. “It may have brought you joy in the past, but if it doesn’t anymore, then it’s time to release it to someone else so that it (and you) can move on.”
Now I don’t necessarily endorse personifying our stuff as having “feelings” and “needing to move on,” but I get the author’s point.
There was all kinds of stuff–physical and emotional–that I’d allowed to collect in the recesses of my home and heart. It was time for me to examine each area and determine which I needed to keep, and what I needed to let go.
And that’s why I (rather excitedly) put a tidying up session at the top of my to-do list for Christmas break.
Why Tidying Up Brings Freedom and Joy
I won’t get into the nitty gritty of my clean out process except to say that the author’s tidying up methods (and subsequent organizational tips) are spot on.
Per her suggestions, I pulled everything out of my closets and couldn’t believe all that I’d collected. And I couldn’t believe my response (and the corresponding freedom I felt) as I went through each item.
The pile of hangers on the ground kept growing and this alone inspired me (especially since, in our home, it never seemed like we had enough hangers).
I think this process was so transformative for me because it released me from the guilt I normally feel when forced to clean out (notice my choice of words there? “forced”?).
This time, I was still able to give each item worth–even those with a particular emotional attachment–because I could acknowledge that, yes, this item had been valuable to me at one time but it had faithfully served its purpose.
This item still had value but its time with me had come to a close. By holding on to it, I was keeping it from serving someone else, and I was just heaping more and more baggage on myself.
And that’s why the longer I sorted the easier it was to let go. The freedom of release was intoxicating and life-changing.
I shared the principles with my daughter and my husband (and my three other kids are tackling their tidying up project next week right before Christmas). I can’t wait!
The True Magic of Tidying Up
Cleaning out my home was important (and even brought purpose to my Christmas decorating this year). But ultimately, the true magic of tidying up was when I applied the book’s principles to the heavy burden weighing on my soul.
I began to wonder:
What regular activities were important at one time, but were no longer necessary?
Why did I now dread some of my must-do daily activities (and what reframing could I do to change that)?
Who knew that organizing and cleaning my home could produce such great soul inspiration?
Seriously, if you’re looking for a fresh start–and a chance to feel clean and organized in your home and in your heart–you’ve got to check out The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up!
Get the book here and give it a try for yourself!