I try not to be a packrat. I was raised in a pretty orderly, neat house. Everything had a place. Nothing was left on tables or countertops. My mom kept the house so that there were were enough personal affects and decorations around that you wouldn’t mistake it for a hotel, but it definitely came close. It felt lived in, but it was very tidy.
My bedroom was the only exception. There was stuff everywhere. It was organized, but there was just a lot of it. Lots of CDs, videotapes and books, notebooks, video games, and just the detritus of my interests.
Over the years, I’ve tried to be more tidy. So I was intrigued to hear about Marie Kondo last year. The queen of tidiness, most people know her as the obsessive compulsive organizer who verbally thanks her possessions before throwing them out. Her methods involve getting rid of anything that does not “spark joy” in you. “What about the mixing bowls?” I would think. “Or the flathead screwdriver? They definitely don’t ‘spark joy’ but I use them.”
Here’s a clip of Mario Kondo helping an American tidy up on our favorite station, NHK:
Initially I wrote her off as a nutcase. But this year I came across the Danish concept of hygge. Basically it translates as “coziness.” This means valuing things like nice lighting, warm socks, reading a book, having a cup of coffee or a piece of cake. Whatever it is that makes you feel nice. And little things make a difference. (I read The Mezzanine this year, and there is an extended comparison of the different types of door knobs, because some really are nicer to grip than others!)
Hygge extends to your surroundings, like the fabrics on the furniture, and, big surprise, tidiness. Being a Scandiphile, hygge innately appeals to me. This focus on the cozy seems like a good way to live. The Danes are frequently ranked as the happiest people in the world, and they attribute this partially to the hygge lifestyle, so maybe there is something to keeping your surroundings tidy. I’m on board now. I want to be hygge af.*
Better ask the queen how to do it.