How tidying up changed my life

When I read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I found the author’s assertion that cleaning up your stuff could have life-altering effects quaint and quirky. I wasn’t a total skeptic — I believe in the relationship between our outer and inner lives, and I could see how synchronicity could cause mild changes to occur in both worlds at once. However, as I began to bring more consciousness into the realm of my possessions. I did not expect huge tremors to shake my soul and alter my life beyond all recognition.

Until they did.

Over the course of about six months, I tidied up in the order suggested by author Marie Kondo: clothes, books, and papers. (I still haven’t quite gotten around to the next catch-all category of “everything else”.) I was not a fanatic follower of her guidelines. I didn’t discard all the books I haven’t yet read, and I don’t talk to my clothes when I take them off at night or always put my handbag in exactly the same place. But I followed the main idea, which is to proceed methodically by category, take each and every item in your hand, and feel whether it “sparks joy.”

The progression was from my bodily need for protection and comfort, through the reading matter that has so strongly shaped my soul, to the spiritual realm of organization and finance. As I slowly went through all of these, the foundations of my life, my work and my marriage, began to tremble. Hidden layers of my mind and emotions were revealed along with the dusty, neglected articles I was weighing in the balance. As I chose to only keep possessions that sparked joy, I was challenged to take a stand for joy in my relationships as well.

This was not always a pleasant, innocuous process. There was a moment when it seemed I would quit my job — but I didn’t. There was another moment when it seemed I would be divorced — but I wasn’t. Instead, the opportunity emerged to create real, authentic relationships in place of habitual, largely unconscious ones. And with the courageous cooperation of my family and my coworkers, this has begun to happen.

The changes brought me to the edge of exploding sometimes, and it was not easy to handle that volcanic energy. I needed a lot of support to get me through the transitions, which led to another change: in the past, I have always been very reluctant to reach out and reveal any weakness or need for help. But out of dire necessity I did, and the connections that formed thereby have become some of the most joyful results of the whole process.

With tremendous gratitude for all I have received, I now recognize that I need to move on to a new job and a new location. Together with my family I’m contemplating next steps and a big move. This will entail yet more tidying up, but I believe that I’m much more prepared for the changes to come, and even excited to see what will emerge next.

Have you ever found that transitions in your outer and inner life coincided? Has tidying up changed your life — or would you like to see what will happen if you try it?

Interior with a Woman Sweeping by Cornelis de Man – 1666

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