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I love to read

Ever since I was a young child, I have loved reading. There is something so special about picking up a fiction book and several minutes later, feeling like you are in a different universe, being completely removed from your own life, and all the good and bad things that come with it. Throughout high school and college though, I spent significantly less time reading for pleasure than I had leading up to that time in my life. High school and college was so busy with homework, projects, extracurriculars, and sports, that I read for fun occasionally but would refrain from saying that I loved to read in my free time, since I found that I did not read too often.

In the past year since beginning my post-college life though, I have found that I have a lot more free time on my hands. Yes, I have those days when I get home from work and feel like being a lazy bum but I also love the feeling of having time after work to sit on my couch and just relax and read.

I’m reading more books these days

In the past 6 months or so, I have read around 20 books. That might seem like a lot, but I also have the perfect opportunity to get reading done on my commute. Since I take a train to work, which takes about 1-1.5 hours total each day, I use this time in the morning and evening to read whatever book I am working on at the time. When I first started commuting on the train, I would feel motion sick while trying to read, but eventually I got accustomed to the train’s movements and I am now able to read while either sitting or standing, without any problems.

One of the downsides of becoming a more avid reader recently is that I have found myself spending more money on books, since I have found I really enjoy keeping physical copies of books that I enjoyed. I have ALWAYS loved the store Barnes & Noble. When I was a young kid I remember asking my mom to take me there often and I could spend hours walking around and marveling at the thousands of books the store had. Somehow every book in Barnes & Noble seemed utterly fascinating. Even if I probably would not be caught reading a certain book EVER, it probably caught my attention at some point in Barnes & Noble.

I never spent a lot of money at Barnes & Noble though (except when I got gift cards for the store as presents) since growing up I had a library card for our county’s public library so I would borrow books from there. After I graduated from high school and moved away from my hometown for college though, I found that I did not return to my county’s public library often. Once I realized the convenience of online shopping, I realized it was especially convenient and cost-effective to purchase books on Amazon since the online retailer often sells books for a cheaper price than what bookstores sell it for.

About a month and a half ago, I discovered a new place where I could purchase books for a great price. This place very quickly became my favorite place to buy books (even though I have only been there once so far). While in the area, I stumbled upon Green Valley Book Fair (near Shenandoah Valley in Virginia). This is a discount book outlet that sells thousands of books at up to 90% off of the retail price. I found myself paying between $3-$6 for new books that have would have otherwise cost between $15-$30. Needless to say, Adam and I spent almost 2 hours there and both left with so many great reads for a small fraction of what we would have paid elsewhere.

The first thing that crossed my mind as soon as we finished paying was When are we going to come back here? I can’t wait to get more books for so cheap! This leads me to the next part of the blog, where I’ll talk about why I think I love buying physical copies of books and holding on to items in general, and a book that recently helped with an obstacle that I realized I was facing.

Holding on to books… and other things

As I mentioned, I have been buying more books recently so my book collection has been growing. A few months ago, I saw a blogger I follow on Instagram posted about a book that she had read and really enjoyed, and after reading the synopsis I realized that this was a book that I actually desperately needed to read. This book was called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.

I had heard good things about this book before but after looking around at how much random stuff I managed to fit in my bedroom of a shared 2 bedroom apartment, I realized that I would need some help in figuring how to “tidy up”. In my experience, a “one size fits all” rule never seems to work since every person is different so whether it is a book on tidying/cleaning, dieting, exercising, or how to be the most effective at this or that, it is hard to develop one specific method that will work for everyone.

I can honestly say though that this book was indeed life-changing for me, as its title advertised. The author, Marie Kondo, spoke honestly and from personal experiences. Her tone was genuine and not patronizing, which some authors end up sounding like when writing self-help books. Her methods were very effective in helping me get rid of unnecessary belongings, including clothes, shoes, random papers, and old tchotchkes.

Letting go of things you don’t need

Through the methods Marie Kondo explains in her book, I got rid of a lot more stuff than I initially realized I did not want, like, or need. Funny enough, in the book she mentions that her clients usually get rid of a lot more stuff than they initially expect to. Throughout life I have enjoyed gathering various mementos to remind me of stages in life, travel experiences, funny times, and many other moments. However, when I was following Kondo’s methods and truly analyzing what objects brought me happiness, I realized that a lot of the “stuff” that I thought I was happy to keep, was really causing clutter in my apartment and ended up being shoved into a random drawer.

Getting rid of some of my items also made packing my belongings into boxes and moving from one apartment to another a little bit easier. I am also learning a larger, more valuable lesson from my tidying experience though. Memories and experiences can live on in your brain whether or not you have keychains or notes from these particular moments in your life. No one can take away memories that you cherish. 

The “Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” has helped me slowly realize that holding onto things only because I think they are supposed to have some significance to me, even though they don’t, is not making the life that I’m living any more fulfilling. So, I am challenging myself (and YOU) to focus on living a fuller life. What does that mean? That means focus on your memories and experiences, rather than gathering as many little knick knacks and trinkets as possible, especially if they do not bring you any actual happiness.  

Do you find that you have a lot of stuff but it seems like the clutter is causing you more stress than happiness? Have you ever tried seriously tidying up your home; how did that experience go for you? Feel free to let me know your thoughts by leaving a comment below.

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2 thoughts on “Living a Full Life, But Not a Messy One

  1. I LOVE The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up! I read it this winter and it was so, so helpful down the road when I started to pack to move to California. I got rid of four garbage bags of clothes (I KNOW–and I still have so many left!), two grocery bags of books, and a few hundred Facebook friends, among other things–and to be honest, I don’t miss any of them. I just feel like I have more space for the things in my life that matter to me, now. 🙂

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  2. This post is awesome! I’ve heard of the Marie Kondo method, and I’m actually doing something very similar, called minimalism. I’ve been getting rid of things in my room that I don’t use, including souvenirs, clothing, and ‘just in case’ items. As a sentimental person, it was hard for me to get rid of mementos and items I’ve collected in the past (except for our ChemE notes, no emotional feelings there!) but I realized that we live our lives based on who we want to be, and we aren’t defined by our possessions. In a similar sense, an object shouldn’t dictate the way we feel or have control over our lives to the point that we feel that we can’t live without it.

    Now that I’ve gotten rid of a lot of things, I realize that I don’t even remember having them or missing them at all, just like you said! For example, I would always store souvenirs and old papers in a box in my closet and I would only ever remember them when I cleaned my room and saw them – I realized that we achieve happiness every day without these things, and we don’t need them to continue being happy 🙂

    I’m not sure to what extent you’ve been tidying up, but you should try it out with your other belongings if you have already started with your clothes! I find that after a long day of work and practice, it’s awesome coming home to a simple and organized room. I used to spend all day moving things around to vacuum my room, but now it’s super simple. Also, if you ever need to move, you can dump everything in my car and it cuts down a lot on the effort! Getting dressed in the morning is easy, and makes the morning less hectic, and it’s super easy to pack for travel, since you don’t have an overwhelming amount of items to choose from!

    I’m glad to hear about someone else who does this – I’m definitely going to check out this book and read it!

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