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Keeping What Sparks Joy

a clean, white room with lots of light.

Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, the show that premiered on New Year’s Day on Netflix, has once again put the spotlight on the KonMari method of organizing. This method was famously introduced to the United States in 2014 with Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. It led millions of Americans to take a good look at their belongings, discard what didn’t “spark joy,” and fold the remaining items in Kondo’s unique style. The Netflix show opens another window into Kondo’s world and the transformative effect of her decluttering and organizing system. As so many of us are beginning to sort through our own closets and homes for spring cleaning, it’s a perfect time to indulge in the show.

If you aren’t familiar with the KonMari method, it’s tenets are:

  1. Visualize how you want to live and what you want your space to look like and hold that image as a final goal.

  2. Tidy by category, not location. And tackle things in this order: clothing, books, paper, Komomo (kitchen, bathroom, garage, miscellaneous) and sentimental items.

  3. Tidy all at once. It’s better to take a day off work to devote to tidying up than to try to do it in parts.

  4. Decide what to keep and what to toss based on whether it sparks joy.

  5. Touch every single item that you are considering keeping or tossing. Before you toss anything, thank it for its service to you.

  6. Follow her method for folding and storing. Here is a guide courtesy of Goop.

I approached the show with some hesitation. I wondered if it would introduce a little too much drama in order to make a show out of organizing. Instead, I have found it to be a satisfying show that provides a good amount of insight into the KonMari method and offers some good solutions for organization quandaries (I love her bag in the bag suggestion!). Best of all, it truly inspires to organize not just for the purpose of organizing, but in order to live your best life. Could there be a greater motivation to declutter?

My favorite thing about the show is Kondo’s happy spirit and the respect she has for homes, objects and people. She floats into homes looking like a fairy and seems to sprinkle light and happiness as she glides around. Before she starts working on a home, she sits on the floor, closes her eyes and “greets” the home. She honors objects and their service to us. She doesn’t judge what individuals choose to keep and, through her example, encourages others to respect others’ choices.

It’s interesting to see her light touch in contrast to the rest of us, as portrayed by the families on the show. It’s even more interesting to see that at first the families seem at moments taken aback by what could be called her quirkiness, but by the end of the month of working with Marie, they are in awe of her and grateful for what she brings.

As you spring clean, watch the show if you need inspiration. Kondo once said the turning point in her life came when she realized it’s not about what you get rid of, but what you keep, and what you keep should be determined by what sparks joy. Perhaps this is the key to the energetic shift that takes place in the homes she visits. When the home is filled with things that spark joy, it is joyful. There is also something about treating the home and the objects within it with utmost respect. If nothing else, a shift takes place within us when we treat the things (and people!) around us with kindness. A softness takes over that smoothes over the rough edges. Now that’s a good way to live!

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