I recently read (well, listened to) The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Mari Kondo. People across the internet have reviewed this book, and I am not going to sit here and review the good or bad things. It’s been said, I don’t want to say it again. There have even been NY Times think pieces about her new line of organizing items from Target, which talked about the hypocrisy of selling organizing bins when the book advocates for using basic shoe boxes to organize.
But I digress.
What I have found fascinating as someone whose Facebook friends are an eclectic mix of fellow volunteers, friends from college and conferences, is that criticism of the book tends to come take away one point from the book(that of keeping what “sparks joy” and discarding other things that don’t) and mistakenly tie that to being the only take away from the book. Because people have heard about it, and heard that this is the major take away, they are happy to mock what they don’t know about.
When you actually read the book, you find that Mari Kondo is a business woman, who built a company around the joy she finds in tidying. The NY Times article mentioned above fails to recognize her as a business woman, who in her collaboration in making organizing items, was simply taking an opportunity that came to her.
Additionally, Kondo’s work is filled with funny little gems and bits of love. She clearly loves what she does, but she acknowledges her mistakes, points them out within the book, and talks about how she’s grown and changed practices based on her mistakes.
After reading the book, I was inspired to do a bit of cleaning and tidying. I finally got rid of the mess of papers and dust that had accumulated under my bed. But Kondo’s book did not radically change my life.
I think what people miss when it comes to self help books, any self help book, is that you cannot expect the book to radically change you. Of course a book can change your perspective, or change your mind, but with things such as cleanliness, or diet, or things that are lifestyle based, a book cannot change you overnight unless you want to change.
I believe in taking what works from a text. I buy less since I read the book, and I am more open to parting with items that I find that I no longer feel I need. I still have about 100 blank cards for writing thank you notes, and toss my laundry on the floor instead of in a hamper. I am not a changed woman for having read The Life Changing Magic of Tidying up, but I am glad I read it, if not for the life changing aspect, then for the fact that it is enjoyable to read. And that’s what’s really important to me.