Health,  Reviews

How to Find Joy in Cleaning

Recently, I used the Libby App, a FREE US audiobook and ebook app, to listen to The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. I had always dreaded cleaning, but Marie Kondo said some things that made me think. She made me realize that my difficulty with tidying was not that it was hard but that I had never really learned how to do it.

Making a bed is what Charles Duhigg calls a “keystone habit” in The Power of Habit, one that starts other good habits. Making a bed is just one aspect of tidying.

“People cannot change their habits without first changing their way of thinking.”

Marie Kondō, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing

By working through the Marie Kondo method of throwing away things that didn’t bring me joy, I had a physical manifestation of the mental cleaning I have been doing all year. I believe that by getting rid of the things I didn’t need or want, I solidified the cognitive change that I have been working so hard to establish. By physically getting rid of unwanted things, I was able to also continue to get rid of unwanted thoughts.

“Visible mess helps distract us from the true source of the disorder.”

Marie Kondō, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing

This made me realize that I was so frustrated by the mess in my house because I was struggling against the mess in my head. I am ashamed to admit that I even yelled at my husband for leaving his clothes on the floor. Marie Kondo mentioned something about how if you are frustrated with someone else’s mess, that means that you haven’t taken care of your own mess. I found this to be very true both within my mind and my home. Once I started truly tidying, my husband enthusiastically went through his clothes and other things to get rid of what he didn’t want. It was such a joy to transform our space together.

“The process of assessing how you feel about the things you own, identifying those that have fulfilled their purpose, expressing your gratitude, and bidding them farewell, is really about examining your inner self, a rite of passage to a new life.”

Marie Kondō, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing

Although Marie Kondo recommends that you thank the object for its service to you, I changed this to thank God for providing that object to me when I needed it. When looking at the things I owned through the lens of stewardship, it was so much easier to let go of these things. I had been entrusted with ownership of these things for a while, but I would best steward them by allowing them to pass to new hands.

This was very similar to how all of my books looked when I put them all in one place.

“I have yet to see a house that lacked sufficient storage. The real problem is that we have far more than we need or want.”

Marie Kondo, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing

I never realized that this would always be why I would easily get overwhelmed when trying to clean up my home. It is impossible to organize things well when you have too many things. In a culture of scarcity, this idea can be hard to grasp, but, once I started throwing things away, I realized just how much more I had than I needed. I noticed that I had many duplicates of objects or objects that I simply no longer wanted. I had gone through the season which I needed the object, but that season was over.

“Many people carry this type of negative self-image for years, but it is swept away the instant they experience their own perfectly clean space. This drastic change in self-perception, the belief that you can do anything if you set your mind to it, transforms behavior and lifestyles. This is precisely why my students never experience a rebound. Once you have experienced the powerful impact of a perfectly ordered space, you, too, will never return to clutter.”

Marie Kondō, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing

Marie Kondo mentions how some people view themselves as simply unable to be tidy. I viewed myself as one of those people. It was quite damaging to my self-esteem. No one wants to be dirty or disorganized. Anyone who is is that way out of default, probably because they don’t know any better. I didn’t. I agree with Marie Kondo that, if people were taught how to tidy up correctly, there would be way more tidy homes and happy people. I am now proudly able to count myself among those who are tidy. I am able to invite people over knowing that they will walk into a comfortable, welcoming home. I don’t think homes have to be perfectly clean to host, but I think there is a level at which it makes the person coming over slightly uncomfortable to enter my home.

Right now, because I am comfortable inviting people over, we have my sister and brother-in-law over enjoying each other’s company for my brother-in-law’s birthday. I am so thankful I get to infuse my home with such joy and celebration. I think that having a tidy home will help us to open our home in hospitality which my husband and I feel called to do and feel His pleasure when we open our home.

Creating a life-giving home through tidying, in turn, attracts a life-giving fellowship.

What are your thoughts on tidying? Have you found any methods that are particularly helpful? Do you believe joy can be found in tidying?

Please comment below and share if you found this helpful!


    • Elizabeth Auwarter

      This is so true! I started listening to various audiobooks and have found that very helpful. I also found some great dance soundtracks on YouTube made specifically for cleaning! How have you entertained yourself while cleaning?

  • Glenys Hicks

    I find that clutter makes me feel agitated and coupled with my fibromyalgia, it leads to lack of motivation to clean. I love Marie Kondo. I have just started by sorting our clothes and folding them. It’s addictive! lol

    • Elizabeth Auwarter

      Isn’t it crazy how things can build so quickly to a state of overwhelm? Marie Kondo said that it is actually really fun to declutter. I didn’t believe her at first, but I do now!

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