Who’s Afraid of Marie Kondo Now?

May every single thing in your life spark joy

Creativity 5 min read Sep 25, 2019
Who’s Afraid of Marie Kondo Now?

It has been months since Tidying Up with Marie Kondo took Netflixlandia by storm, but we’re happy to report that the minimalist movement is alive and well, and has even found its way into Starbucks and the vegan lifestyle.

We feel a second wind coming on, with Marie’s recent Emmy nod. And so, fans ask, will Season 2 drop anytime soon? Netflix and Marie are playing coy. But a book for children is in the works, so there’s that.

If you’re still a loud and proud pack rat immune to the Konmari fever, Season 1 is still streaming. See if you can resist this the call of the decluttering Siren then, with her voice and demeanor soft and sweet, stepping into each house she visits with a smile and a reverence for whatever occupies its floor space.

That is, until the culling starts. Because behind the delicate manner is a mission meaning to get done. Make no mistake about it, Marie is not proposing a to-do list you can pick and choose from. If you want the decluttering thing to work, you must adapt the method as a whole, as she prescribes in Tidying Up, print edition:

Don’t change the method to suit your personality… Photos: cherish who you are now… Don’t let your family see… What you don’t need, your family doesn’t either… Unread books: “sometime” means “never”… Sorting papers: rule of thumb—discard everything… Forget about “flow planning” and “frequency of use”… Empty your bag every day…

The directives are stern, but for a reason. Having impacted so many people in diverse circumstances toward a life with less clutter, Marie has grown familiar with the common pitfalls of every well-intentioned spring cleaning.

Most of us are all too familiar with the weight of a lifetime of accumulated stuff. Marie has step-by-step instructions for those. A trickier process, though, is dealing with accumulated memories. The section on mementos and photos could make a tough cookie cry: she said to keep only five photos per day from a special trip. Five!

But perhaps the most revolutionary idea from the Konmari method is the single criterion that must govern the entire culling process: Does it spark joy? If your answer is ‘yes’, you can keep it; any other answer including ‘maybe’ means the item has to go.

It’s not five criteria. Not even three. It is one single narrow tunnel that demands no less than euphoria to pass through. Why joy, you might find yourself asking. Why not function or usefulness or sentimental value?

The bottom line of every personal acquisition—clothes, shoes, skin care, travel, a house—is how happy it makes us, whether it fulfills an actual need or just satisfies a whimsy. All other considerations such as function or utility ultimately serve joy.

The Konmari method is neither easy nor forgiving. It demands complete trust and a commitment to see through the end of the process. It may feel like a bootcamp at several points but imagine the happy ending: being surrounded only by things you own that spark joy!

Marie had noted physical changes in some of her clients at the end of the Konmari exercise: their eyes are brighter, their skin better, even their tummies firmer.

It’s a very strange phenomenon, but when we reduce what we own and essentially “detox” our house, it has a detox effect on our bodies as well. - Marie Kondo

When you are told to keep less, instead of acquire, it could feel disorienting in this day and age. It is a good kind of whirl, though; one of those things that washes over you like a tsunami of an idea. And nothing stays the same after a tsunami.

The key, as always, is to stay open to learning, as well as unlearning, and keep making space for people and experiences.