Imagine getting organized and tidying up once and for all. This experience turned into a life-changing event. To explain in as few words as possible, the act of giving away things was most meaningful, especially knowing the joy it meant for others, and I managed to keep the things that brought me joy.

When my husband and I arranged to move across country, from Florida to California, we secured a place that was half the size of our former home. There was only one choice: downsize our belongings.

It was then I decided to read The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo that a friend had recommended. I had to commit to a new method of organizing and tidying up.

What I learned from this book was to keep the things that spark joy. According to Kondo, when we are honestly confronting the things we own, our emotions are awakened. It is these emotions that give us the energy for living, she says. Believe what your heart tells you when you ask, “Does this spark joy?”

The Essence of Tidying Up

The essence of Kondo’s book, as she believes, is that you will be amazed at how things will begin to connect in your life. And dramatic changes will follow. “Putting your house in order is the magic that creates a vibrant and happy life.”

In this process of tidying up, I had discovered I was already an organized person. I would only need to think a little more creatively in tidying up, which I attribute to the book.

Teacher, author, and artist, Julia Cameron once said, “When we clear the physical clutter from our lives, we literally make way for inspiration and good, orderly direction to enter.”  This concept makes perfect sense on a day-to-day basis, when we put away things on our desks and organize for the following day.  However, tidying up had to be more than a daily habit.

The key approach of tidying up is to organize what to keep. To make it work for this household of stuff to get organized for our moving event, I dubbed myself the chief organizer.

Over a period of several weeks that followed, I organized our belongings in two distinct categories: what to keep and what to give away. Kondo suggests discarding thoroughly, in one go. What worked best for us was to weigh on what to keep. Grasp hold of your items to get a sense of what brings you joy, and if you need to, try on, wear again, and see how you feel.

At first, it was difficult for my husband to decide among two hundred golf shirts with special logos. Quite frankly, he had worn only his favorites and many were tucked away and unworn for years. He decided to keep his Fourth of July stripes and Christmas greens and reds. I had to choose among my favorite shoes, like the high heels little girls try on for fun. A couple of my favorite shoes had teeth marks from our dog’s puppy days and were hardly noticeable. We asked ourselves each time, Do these things bring us joy?

Make Giving a Joyous Event

As it turned out, we gave away nearly fifty percent of our physical belongings. We made decisions quickly by this time and refused to linger on the past. But the best part of this story happened when two army veterans from the Faith Farm Ministries in Florida arrived on our scheduled pickup day.

One of the volunteers eyed the leather pull-out sofa bed and commented, “Wow, this is really nice.” I had an immediate sense of gratitude for the joy this sofa had given me at one time. And now the sofa would give someone else joy.

Goodwill workers came to pick up boxes of “stuff” that we had accumulated for over 20 years, like kitchen dishes, pots and pans, furniture, and knickknacks. Imagine the size of their truckload that caused the Goodwill volunteers to cancel two other pickup stops. Many people are given jobs and training at Goodwill because of the money they raise in reselling these things through the thrift stores.

Neighbors and friends selected things that brought them joy. We were delighted to see their smiles and expressions of joy in receiving these gifts.

Hopefully this insight we learned may add some magic in tidying up for you. Someone else may find joy in the things you give away. And you can make giving an annual joyous event. We’ll never stop giving and sharing with others.

Special thanks to Marie Kondo for bringing this work of tidying up to life.

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Follow Ann M. Augustine on Twitter: @annmaugustine

Follow Marie Kondo on Twitter: @mariecondo