Marie Kondo has helped me Spark Joy

A dear friend lent me Marie Kondo’s “the life changing magic of tidying up” last year, and I had it sitting around for months until the last few days of the year. I had seen how this friend was folding her socks, in something called the KonMari method from the book, and it was not the roll-one-sock-into-another method I’ve been using all my life.

Over the last decade, I’ve been downsizing, from a house with an empty basement fill of storage to now in an apartment that is less than 500sq ft. In the process, I’ve kept many rubbermaids in storage, and eventually over the years close the storage units and moved them to my house — but have never been motivated, or rather prioritized, to go through them.

I decided to give the book a try — not only in terms of reading it, but I committed to giving its recommendations and process a try. After the purging process, which is rather innovative and warns against the traditional one-room-at-a-time model most of us use for cleaning, Ms. Kondo’s clothes folding technique is also innovative.

I found myself weirdly memorized by the cathartic process, that I found myself pro-actively doing laundry over the next few days just to fold more clothes this way.

It was then that I realized one of the three major benefits of the KonMari method, and that is the introduction of a slowness and formality to the process.

As we transitioned into 2019, I noticed a social media buzz start to grow regarding Ms. Kondo, as an increased scale that crossed both into meme territory, but it started to generate a lot of love, and haters. As I looked further into it, I discovered that on Jan 1st, a show launched on Netflix providing her process to a new level of audience that could probably use her even more.

I watched a few of the episodes, to realize why there was so much discussion about her, but also an even larger respect for what she is introducing into North American society when it could use it the most — respect. In each episode after touring a house, she asks to sit quietly in prayer and thanks the house for being a protector to that family, and the opportunity to tidy and organize. She takes this further and will thank each item that gets evaluated, and encourages her clients to do the same.

As a logical thinker, I found this a challenging as most would, in wondering why on earth would one be sending a virtual thanks to inanimate objects? But then I realized, when you do this, two things happen. One, is by acknowledging a subconscious respect for an object, you immediately subconsciously start treating it differently. The other benefit of this process is if you’re thanking 5 of your t-shirts for being there and covering you and making you feel good — and you have a reaction to one of those t-shirts that doesn’t illicit a “spark of joy” — you’re recommended instead to thank the garment for the time it has spent with you and throw it away.

While praying to inanimate objects might be a logical leap even after the explanation, consider a more North American lens, gratitude. Science shows this is one of the most important things one can do for internal satisfaction.

The first episode was one of the most controversial, as it involves a typical patriarchal couple with children where the man is complaining a lot about the kitchen and laundry and his busy work days. Now I don’t know how much of it was staged, but by the end of the episode, it shows the couple folding laundry together using the KonMari method, and even showing their child to fold in the process. This is a very powerful message that Marie Kondo is introducing into North America, and I hope it propagates. They’re not each doing their own thing, like watching tv — as a family they’re taking on the responsibility of the home together, as a process. What would be more fulfilling?

These are the two things that KonMari introduces, respect, and slowness — two things our society could use more than ever.

I don’t know if it will work for you, but I recommend the books and the Netflix series, see if either work for you. Two weeks in and I’m still purging and tidying, but it’s entertaining to see new patterns developing. When I get home now, everything I bring into my apartment gets immediately put away into its place in the home, no longer just thrown onto a counter, table, or couch. I’m not sure how long this will last, but it’s also amazing to just sit in the cleanest apartment I’ve ever had and realize how cathartic the experience is. I hope you find it equally rewarding.

We live in an information addicted society, that encourages a fast paced lifestyle, and busyness until we can allow laziness. Consider instead, introducing a slowness into your life, which involves respect and gratitude for all of the things in your possession. Imagine instead of spending family time ignoring each other and watching tv, or catching up on instagram, you were sharing the experience of tidying and organizing each of these items, together. This might sound silly, but why not? It would make for happier humans, better relationships, and a tidier living space that who knows — might eventually spark joy.