“Thank you, bear! Good job!”
– me to Natasha’s stuffed bear
just before sending it off to the grandsons.
One of the stranger parts of the KonMari method probably hearkens back to Ms. Kondo’s background in the Shinto religion. I’m not going to try and summarize an entire belief system in a blog post (we have wikipedia for that) but one aspect of it is the idea of kami:
kami refers to the divinity, or sacred essence, that manifests in multiple forms: rocks, trees, rivers, animals, places…Kami and people are not separate; they exist within the same world and share its interrelated complexity. – Wikipedia
The KonMari method doesn’t actually talk about kami, or shinto, but there is a strong suggestion of anthropomorphizing your belongings. You might think that this would make it harder to part with this, but instead it turns into a more complete interaction: instead of getting something for a purpose, using it, and then keeping it around “just in case”, you can say “thank you” and send it on to serve that purpose somewhere else. If you need your teeth cleaned, for example, you go to the dentist, you get them cleaned, and then you don’t say “Hey, I might need my teeth cleaned again – can you just come home with me and hang around in the back of my closet?” The tendency to hang on to things makes much less sense if you think of them as personalities with purpose.
Reducing Technology Stress
Thinking of it as a personality also helps out in other kinds of stress-inducing situations, such as when tech goes wrong. For example, to prepare for a camping trip this weekend we took the car into the mechanic to get some minor repairs done. While it was there, Natasha made a comment about how BunBun (our car’s name) was “…in the hospital.”
Good anthropomorphizing! But “hospital” sounded kind of dire, so I made an adjustment: “No, BunBun is in the day spa, so she’s fresh and ready for the trip!”
One of the most useful paradigm shifts you can make about troubleshooting any kind of tech is to remember: Technology wants to work. Whatever it is – your computer, your blender, your door – it was designed to do a thing. It wants to do it! Too often we act like our technology is out to get us (c’mon, raise your hand if you’ve yelled “Why are you doing this to me?” at something that wasn’t working) when what’s actually happening is the technology is asking for help. Unlike you, most tech is pretty limited in scope and purpose; can you imagine how frustrating it would be to only be able to do one thing and then have that thing taken away?
It’s All in Your Head…Just Like Everything Else
For those who scoff at this being “unrealistic”, I will just remind you that everything you see is “unrealistic” – reality is far too complex for our brains to handle. Instead we filter the information to figure out what is important, and what we want to see. I’m not suggesting that you “believe” anything, but rather that you “act as if” the things around you have personalities (perhaps watching Disney’s Beauty and the Beast might help).
Why? Because if you are putting out loving expressions not just to people (cuz you’re already doing that, right?) but also to the things around you, and creating imaginary dialogues where the things are loving you back…well, that’s a whole lotta love in your day.
Sounds like a pretty nice place to be, whether you’re cluttered or not. Why not give it a try?