I bought a book last Christmas. It's one of the best books I've bought in a long time. It hooked me from the beginning and couldn't stop reading it until I turned the last page. It's deep and fascinating. It's one of the very few I would definitely call lifechanging. And it's about tidying up your home. Not joking.
Marie Kondo is Japanese and obsessed with order since she was little. She claims that she's developed a method for tidying up your house that will keep it tidy forever. That other methods will simply make you rebound into disorder shortly after you've finished. She claims that tidying is a home discipline that has always been neglected (unlike cooking or sewing), and that all we do is inherit bad practices from our parents without ever questioning them (why do you fold your socks like you do?). There was no set of best practices, no courses, no books about it, even though it is a daily activity we all have to go through. It has economic effects (calculate how much money are you spending on storage within your house), practical effects (where did I leave the receipt of this purchase?) and psychological effects (think about how peaceful your home looks when it is tidy). But, despite all that, you will not find almost any book or course about it. That's why KonMari had to develop one.
KonMari's method will get you into a one-off project to order your house completely. The project has 2 sequential phases: 1) discard and 2) store. She goes through different sets of items: clothes, books, papers, komono (japanese for stuff), sentimental items. She covers all the practicalities of each phase in exceptional detail. She will teach you how to decide if you need to keep that shirt or not, how to fold it, how to fold your socks, where to store your trousers, how to order your papers, where to put your spices in the kitchen, ... It hooks you as soon as you identify little differences with your own practices. It traps you when you realize there was a better way and you've never thought about it even for a second. That you've gone on autopilot doing so many things ineffectively on a daily basis. Then you realize you've finished the book in one evening.
But beyond the practicalities of the method you find some profound meaning to the process. As she says, the things you own talk about who you are, and going through them, one by one, is a unique review of your own life. We all feel the resistance to discard things, either because we linger over the past or because we fear the future ("I'll keep this just in case"). When you force yourself to do it, it is a liberating experience. According to Marie Kondo, she still has to see someone that goes through the process and does not have a profound effect in her life. While somewhat extreme, it's an idea you can relate to.
Then things get a little bit weird from there, when she cofesses that she's developed a quasi-personal relation with her stuff. For instance: "don't pile up your clothes, it is disrespectful for the ones at the bottom". "When you take off your clothes at the end of the day, thank them for the hard work they've done". "Your socks perform a terrible job during the day, suffering from a lot of friction, you should store them in a way that helps them rest when not in use". "The things you hold and never use are suffering. Throw them or donate them to put an end to their suffering". Now, this approach sits between cute as Toy Story things-are-secretly-alive and weird as fuck. Depending on how open minded you are (and you are not, I know you), this part of the book will trigger you into "this whole book is bullshit". NO, IT'S NOT. It's super useful, just don't give into this part if you don't feel it's for you.
Obviously, I've started following the advice of the book. I'm only at the first stage (discard) and only at the first set of items (I've covered clothes, books and papers already). The process is hard (I've thrown away like 8 bags of unwanted stuff already) but indeed liberating. And while it is too soon to tell, the way my closet looks right now pushes me to keep it as it currently is: perfectly tidy and almost empty, holding only those things that I truly like. There's a feeling of "wow, cool!" everytime I open it. But again, too soon to confirm whether it will stay as it is or not. In any case, it surely pushes you into a lifestyle of owning very few things, but things you really love. This is an idea that I guess most of us would like to aspire to, but we're confronted with an environment that incentives consumption heavily.
This book is just 8$ on Amazon Kindle Store. It has the power of being a lifechanging experience. It is a 5 star, must-have (you shouldn't die without reading it), in my list already. Go get it now.