Marie Kondo has taken the idea of making a tidy home into a spiritual organization journey.

Her 2014 book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up is an international bestseller with over 7 million copies sold.  She has been on numerous popular TV and radio shows and offers lectures to clamoring crowds.

Named one of Time’s 100 most influential people, Kondo founded Konmari Media and recently launched a KonMari consultant training program.

Her Netflix show Tidying Up With Marie Kondo takes the business of decluttering much deeper than an organized closet and we can’t get enough of it!

This petite, soft-spoken 34-year-old Japanese woman was born to tidy up!  In her book, she admits even as a young child she preferred to organize rooms.  When her teacher asked her class to sign up for classroom duties such as feeding the classroom pets, taking attendance etc., Kondo always signed up to clean the classroom!

KonMari method, organizing, sparking joy, decluttering, spiritual energy, storage, possession
KonMari method, organizing, sparking joy, decluttering, spiritual energy, storage, possession

As a teenager, her first job was as a maiden attendant in a neighborhood Shinto shrine.  She was obsessed with what to throw out throughout her youth.

According to Kondo, one day she fainted and was unconscious for two hours.  Upon waking, she heard a strange voice telling her to look more closely at her possessions.  She realized she needed to focus not on what to throw out but what objects to keep.  This breakthrough helped her to see we should only keep the things that make you happy.

At 19 years of age and in college, Kondo started her organizing business.  Her KonMari method consists of gathering all your objects in a certain category into one place and keeping only the items which “spark joy” for you.  The next step is to choose a place for your favorite objects to always keep there.

Marie admits there is a bit of Shinto inspiration in her method.  Cleaning and organizing are considered spiritual experiences sometimes in Shinto practice, which considers the spiritual energy of objects.

This makes sense as you become familiar with the KonMari method and explore what brings you joy.

The first step in beginning to tidy up is to put all of your objects into one room in one giant mound.  The reason for this is so you can see and feel the sheer volume and space your stuff takes up.  This enables you to get a clear picture of how much stuff you have in each particular category.

When you first confront your mound of things – yes that’s what it feels like -Kondo instructs you to touch each and every article individually.

Upon holding the object, if you feel joy or happiness from it you may keep it.  If the object does not “spark joy”, you must discard it after thanking it for its past service to you.

This personalization to each object may seem a bit silly at first, but by addressing each object you are essentially saying “I didn’t use you these past years, but I thank you for being there” or “You have been of great service to me and I want to continue to wear you!”  Verbalizing your feelings to each object helps clarify what makes you happy.

KonMari method, organizing, sparking joy, decluttering, spiritual energy, storage, possession

Kondo’s method tidies by category NOT by location. 

These categories are as follows:  clothes, books, papers, komono (miscellany) and sentimental items.  It is important to go through the categories in this order.  If you find a photo album, when you should be organizing books, you can imagine how distracting the photo album will become and the time lost looking at the album when you should be focused on book sorting.

As you make your way through the categories, your skill in deciding what is important to you will become clearer and the job much easier as you become more proficient at it. This will help you when you get to the difficult sentimental items category.

In the KonMari method, by handling each sentimental item and deciding what to discard you are effectively processing your past.  According to Kondo, “it is not your memories, but the person we have become because of these past experiences that is what we should treasure.”

Check back tomorrow to learn more about Kondo’s folding system.  In our week-long decluttering, we’ve moved from explorations of physical space to explorations inside your mind and its effect on your life.  What brings you joy and meaning, and what prevents you from experiencing mental clarity?

Denise Benson

Author Denise Benson

Denise Benson is a photographer, creative writer and traveler. Discovering new ideas, people, places and cultures is a lifelong passion, which Denise enjoys sharing with her readers using her unique perspective as a photographic storyteller. An avid sailor, she and her husband Brian have sailed 10,000 blue water miles exploring the South Pacific. Along with sailing, she enjoys travel, food & wine, books and nature related activities, including napping on the fore-deck of her boat, Moonstone.

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Join the discussion 3 Comments

  • Hanes Susan says:

    I love your post, Denise, and after a life of moving every couple of years, have found great pleasure in decluttering as I settle into a new place. But now that we have been in the same home for 18 years, I am feeling the urge to purge finding its way into my heart. The problem is, what if your spouse doesn’t share your frame of mind? I can take care of my own things, but what about the stuff we’ve acquired together? I feel I have no right to dispose of things that are his, or even ours. But he doesn’t want to get rid of anything! Other than sneaking out the occasional thing, I am finding that I must find a way toward peace and calm that does not involve keeping only what brings me joy. I need to remember that he brings me joy and that I’d better relax about the perfect drawers and concentrate on what is really important!

    • Hey Susan,

      Such a great question and wouldn’t it be nice to have both – a happy hubby and cleaning up the clutter?
      I know Barry and I negotiate spaces in the house – my clutter is a work in progress and Barry throws everything away – except 20 year-old t-shirts! No easy answers but I’m enjoying the phases of life and learning to make room for what does matter 🙂

  • denisembenson says:

    Susan, I feel like you are describing my husband as well! Quite honestly, I’m not even sure he has noticed my neat drawers and closet. It’s my hope that before we move into our next home, he will realize he has to shed some excess items that have been languishing in a storage space. Seeing all his “treasures” in one place and the fact that he hasn’t needed to visit or use anything in storage for several months is beginning to dawn on him, that some things may just have to go!. I would suggest starting on something small of your shared stuff. It could be that junk drawer in the kitchen or a shelf in the garage. Another thing is when it is time to get down the holiday decorations or some other annual use items, purge it together and be sure to put back only the items you enjoy and use! Small steps that don’t take long but give obvious results may spur his interest in purging further. In the meantime, start in on your personal items and maybe he will see the benefits of decluttering. And you are right, it is only stuff, but he is definitely a keeper! Good Luck!

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