I have read a good amount of books in my life, but there are only a small few that I would describe as “life-changing.” I want to share my experience with my most recent life-changing read, not coincidentally called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.
I talked about it to everyone who would listen, I impatiently counted down the days until I knew I could fully begin the process of purging and tidying up my room/life, and then once I started, I still constantly thought about what I could get rid of next, and how free and light and beautiful my new space felt to me.
The point the author drives home the most, and which has guided me every step of the way in this process, all comes down to this one question: “Does this item spark joy for me?” So lovely and simple, right? What a beautiful concept to only surround ourselves with the things that actually bring joy to our being. It was like a lightswitch flipped in my head and I instantly began seeing everything through a different filter. I would continually scan my room and mentally note all the items I would easily be able to discard now that I had this new revelation. The result was beyond what I could have expected.
I kept track of most everything I discarded so I could see the full measure of my efforts, and the numbers were equal parts terrifying and extremely satisfying. Twelve black trash bags filled with clothes and accessories and shoes: gone. Ten boxes worth of books, makeup, electronics, and extras: goodbye! I tallied up individual items which included 107 tops, 61 pairs of shoes, 32 dresses, 50-plus necklaces, and 23 scarves, just to list a few categories. It probably goes without saying that I felt physically lighter with every bundle of stuff I was able to get rid of. But the impact on my life has been much greater than just a cleaner room. I’ve found that this process has seeped into so many other elements of my life, which is why this has truly been so life-changing for me.
Here are the biggest things I have learned and taken away from this experience:
1. There is SO MUCH we don’t need in life.
The amount of things I have accumulated literally disgusted me and was beginning to suffocate me at times. There is very little we need to get by on, and the less we have in life, the less complicated it begins to feel.
2. A clutter-free life creates a clutter-free mind.
I didn’t used to go around constantly thinking about the mess back at home in my room, or about the drawers of unnecessary paperwork I still had, or about nail art tools I hadn’t used in years. But I’ve learned now that the truth is that stuff is always hanging around in our subconscious somehow. So the more I got rid of things, the more space it felt my mind had to tackle other things I was passionate about. After my purge, I found myself more motivated at work, more proactive on going after projects I had always wanted to start, and even less forgetful about events and things I needed to remember. It felt as if a fuzzy little burden I had been dragging around with me without even realizing it was now gone.
3. Having less clothes has actually ADDED to the variety of outfits I’m able to put together and the ease with which I’m able to do so.
I used to be the type of person that thought more was more. Shopping at Forever 21 thrilled me because you could get SO many things for SO cheap. I’m now learning the unfortunate ethical implications behind this system, but have also been surprised by the fact that less clothing options actually makes putting together an outfit every day easier and more exciting. Because now I only have items to sift through that make me happy! And I can actually see everything in my closet because of the way I store things and because of how clear and simple it appears now.
4. The purge emerged patterns of the types of clothes or items that consistently weren’t a fit for me.
I discovered which style of clothes I really liked wearing, so I now believe I will shop differently in the future because of this. Also, I learned that sample sales are mostly always a bad idea. I got rid of so many clothes from this one sample sale that I always go to because you can’t try things on, and even if they’re so affordable, buying things you’ll never wear doesn’t make it worth it.
5. The decluttering obsession has spilled over into other parts of my life.
The mentality of removing all items that don’t spark joy has now turned into a discipline that I can’t seem to shut off. I’ve found myself asking that same question about accounts I follow on Instagram, people I follow on Snapchat, things in my car, items on my desk at work, fricking apps on my phone and even files on my desktop! We allow so much space and energy for things and people that don’t add to who we are, so removing those creates space for all the good things we want to let in.
6. My days are truly more joy-filled.
I go to bed happier and I wake up happier too. Falling asleep in a clean, cozy, and good-smelling room thrills me. And when I wake up to a room that doesn’t have clothes or random crap strewn about, my mind can go straight to the things that matter. I’ve woken up excited and ready to go more days than not since this experience. I go about my day with a lightness and a freedom that is tangible. The most exciting part to me is that I’m creating a space and a life for myself that speaks to who I am, and that delights me on a deep soul-level. You can do hard things! It’s always worth it, I promise.