If you haven’t heard of Marie Kondo (pronounced 'mah-ree-eh' with the 'eh' sound at the end) yet, she’s the Japanese tidying (aka cleaning) superstar, with an international following of fans, a NY Times’ bestselling book called The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up and a popular Netflix show all about decluttering American homes. Her organizing techniques have sparked a cleaning revolution in the USA and around the world!
But who is she, what is ‘Tidying’ and how does it improve our mood? And why does she recommend ‘thanking’ old shirts or jeans or magazines and then donating or throwing them out?
Who is Marie Kondo?
Marie Kondo is a small lady at 4’8” tall, with a perpetual smile and bangs that make her look like a living doll. In her native country of Japan homes and apartments are notoriously small so excess stuff can quickly take over the living space. Marie recognized this issue and started a revolution around ‘Tidying’ in Japan. Marie realized that many items have outlived their usefulness and were causing stress, rather than bringing joy. And this issue is not isolated to Japanese families, in fact she may be even more popular in America now than her home country.
The Art of Tidying “KonMari”
Marie’s strategy centers around the concept that you should only have possessions that you love, are proud of, and that, most importantly, “spark joy” for you. If they don’t, you donate or dispose of them. Marie espouses that too much stuff prevents us from enjoying the items that bring us the most joy. In addition, all this material accumulation only causes stress and fills up our homes with junk that we don’t even like, let alone love. Americans are especially prone to collecting things - closets overflow and garage spaces become filled wall to wall with things that haven’t been used in years or even decades.
Sparking Joy - The Magic Touch
Marie recommends you start with clothing. You unceremoniously put all your clothes into a giant pile so you can see everything at once. All your jeans, shirts, dresses, suits, EVERYTHING. Then you go through the pile one piece of clothing at a time - holding the items and asking them if they give you joy. If they don’t spark joy, you put them in a discard pile - if they do give you joy you put them in a keep pile. Therein lies the difference in her method. Rather than thinking about your clothes in terms of fashion, or style - she asks if the item sparks joy, if it makes you happy to own. This is a high bar to set!
Our personal tidying experience
Many of you don’t know that Steph and I both lived in Japan for several years and speak Japanese. We’ve been hearing about Marie Kondo for several years as she exploded in popularity in Japan - we’ve even implemented her strategy when we moved 3 years ago. We made 4 trips to Goodwill with countless garbage bags filled with stuff that we no longer needed but would be useful to others. It was a calming, therapeutic undertaking that we really enjoyed, and the results were quickly apparent. By simplifying our surroundings, we felt a huge sense of relief and gratification, and by removing the clutter, we also reduced our daily stress! Being able to organize, find, and see your belongings efficiently, is a wonderful way to bring balance, serenity, ease, and joy to your life.
Clearing out our closets, shelves and living space made us feel good about our home. We donated a ton of stuff and made room for products we’re proud to own and love. Springtime is the perfect time to tidy up and declutter, and we hope this post inspires you to find some time to do just that.
Stay tuned for our next blog post, where we'll show you exactly how to implement the KonMari techniques into your home.
Don't forget to leave us a comment below if you'd like to share any of your tips and tricks for tidying. We'd love to hear them!