Forget tidying: losing your precious possessions is the real "life-changing magic"

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We have a friend who has bought into the whole “decluttering” thing… She has a daughter who’s a couple years older than ours, so we constantly get hand me down clothes from her. This is awesome, as we rarely have to buy clothes for my daughter (although her daughter is going through a very tomboyish phase right now, whereas our daughter is all dresses, all the time, so in a couple years if our daughter stays on the same path we won’t get much use out of the hand me downs). However, in the last batch of clothes she gave us, there were clothes that would fit her daughter right now. It appears that she’s bringing her daughter’s wardrobe down to the bare minimum required, as well.

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It’s cool when it’s your own stuff. Less cool when it’s a helpless victim of parenting.


Yeah. Granted, I’m pretty sure she had a bit of a shopping addiction, and so her 5 year old already had WAY more clothes than she needed (some of the clothes actually have TAGS on them)… But still.

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Sounds like shopping bulimia…


It’s really weird how you guys have decided that “tidying up” is strictly for crazy people, on account of somebody wrote a vaguely New-Age-y advice book. Last time I participated in one of these threads, I wound up with an apparently well-meaning person trying to convince me that I was oppressing myself because I was sick of living like a hoarder from a TV show.

(And now we’re using that angle to mock someone for trying to make the best of a loss. Classy!)

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Not sure how somebody somebody losing a laptop and other useful valuables is now “involuntary decluttering”.

Also, really not sure what Marie Kondo has to do with said “involuntary decluttering” other than an excuse to bring out a whipping boy. I get that she is the latest wave of declutter-ers and some people don’t like that. That’s fine but don’t make a bogeyman out of it.

However, if you’ve read the book, she doesn’t advocate getting rid of things you’ve used for years. In fact, it’s pretty much the opposite. Do you actually use it/love it? Yes? Keep it. Are you just hanging on to it “for when”? Yes? Well, just let it go, man. It’s OK.

It’s not that difficult to understand. Not sure why some people get critical about what they think it’s about, rather than what it actually says.


Honestly, some of the turns of phrases she uses are hilarious to me (if I threw out my clothes because they didn’t ‘spark joy’ I would be naked). But the basic ideas she has make a lot of sense. I think the best advice she has is to consider all objects of the same type at once. Don’t clean out your bedroom closet and then a week later clean out the closet in the spare bedroom where you keep extra clothes. Get all the clothes and consider them all at once.

Of course I live extremely minimally and hate getting new possessions to begin with. But I can’t stop grandparents from buying birthday presents, so at some point I’m going to have a huge heap of toys to get rid of.

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Actually she has a good point. Every time my computer blows up, my workflow gets more streamlined for the reasons stated. The same goes for moving, actually, each time I move I get better organized. Starting from near-scratch opens possibilities, and forces you out of your habits, which allows you to completely reorganize.

But then again both my girlfriend and mom get less organized every time something like this happens…

I think the writing style of the book lends itself to parody and ridicule, it also falls pretty squarely into the “first world problems” meme zone. I get the draw, I lived with a near horder for years, and went to college with slobs; when I finally got my own space I broke down and decided to have as little clutter as possible. My method is eventually realizing I need to clean my closet, having a small panic attack, and finally screaming “its all crap!”, and donating it all to charity or to the landfill.


The real magic, I find, is when you randomly find your precious possessions you though were long lost.


The particular wording is likely suffering the usual language and cultural-gap of translation. Consider the parable of “Macho Business Donkey Wrestler”:

If you actually look for intention rather than phrasing it’s pretty clear. There’s no expectation that toilet paper will “spark joy” either. However, she doesn’t recommend you replace it with a “smooth stone that reminds you of your mother” as an earlier BoingBoing boogeyman article might suggest.

The ‘spark joy’ thing was specifically about clothing. I think it wasn’t just a language barrier, but also probably a bit of a personality thing. Many people who went through the closets and only kept clothes that made them feel happy would still have plenty of clothes left, but for some of us, that’s just how what clothes do (or maybe we don’t own the right clothes?).

Been there, done that, pissed me off. No positive life-change magic detected in the events.

Healthy ideas taken to unhealthy, cargo-cult levels are unsurprisingly unhealthy.

I have seen zero evidence in any of these posts that Kondo’s advice is commonly taken to unhealthy levels. Mostly people just construct a strawman based around literally a single sentence from the book. “Kondo says to only keep things that give me joy. OMG SHE WANTS ME TO THROW AWAY MY FORKS AND UNDERWEAR, WHAT A CRAZY PERSON.”

Or, for example, this article: a woman muses on how losing stuff can sometimes give you a chance to start over and fight stagnation, and compares and contrasts it with the experience of willingly discarding old clutter. BoingBoing response: “OMG SHE THINKS EVERYONE SHOULD GET THEIR LAPTOPS STOLEN, WHAT A CRAZY PERSON.”

I haven’t read Kondo’s book, but the only real problem that I’ve seen her detractors cite is that she wraps the advice in a sort of fluffy New Age-y delivery. That in itself needn’t undermine the underlying concepts.

Yeah. People have different degrees of attachment to Stuff.

I genuinely could trim myself back to the contents of my pockets, spare underpants, and live in a small caravan. I think I’d like it actually.

I like the idea of accidentally losing stuff as a way to get rid of the more difficult things.

Agreed. Even on my work machine, clutter buggers things up.

But, it’s an occasional joy to plumb the depths of my pack-rat like backups of computers past. I dump everything I can, database backups, and entire drive images, occasionally even making VM images of machines I am retiring.

There’s some holes in my backups due to drive crashes, but there’s a clear record of my thoughts, feelings, and general stuff I got up to going all the way back to early college. I actually have other media I haven’t figured out how to recover quite yet that will fill in the blanks back into high school, Jr. high and who knows how much earlier?

Never toss your data. There’s no joy there. =)

EDIT: Pictures of Ex’s are OK to toss.

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Digital Decluttering is now as important as Physical Decluttering. Hmmm. Digital and Physical life becoming of similar importance.

“Digital Decluttering” has always been important for Windows users. If anything, it’s much less important now than, say, 1998. :wink:

When my lair/workshop gets a fulltext search for the objects, I could perhaps agree with that statement.