Sparking joy and other tips: Is Marie Kondo’s advice realistic?

Sunday, January 27, 2019 - 6:55pm

NOSELL

Marie Kondo

Like every other school night, I was surfing Netflix after completing work and stumbled across the show “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo.” The show follows Marie Kondo, the famed Japanese organizing consultant, as she helps families across America gain some semblance of order in their lives. Kondo is most famously known for her book called “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing,” which focuses on the technique she employs which has been dubbed as the KonMari Method. The essence of this particular method lies in her belief that every item that we own must “spark joy,” or in other words, elicit happiness from within us. If you think about that statement, it does make sense: Why should one keep something if it does not please them? I watched the first episode and was left absolutely enamored. Some part of me was even inspired to start my own cleaning drive in my room.

The KonMari Method is rather simple beyond its underlying ideology, and can be broken down into two key parts: discarding and organizing. The first is straightforward and essentially recommends getting rid of any and all things that contribute to the stress of our daily lives, but that does not necessarily equate to living a minimalist life. The second part requires us to visualise the end image and find an appropriate space for each item by categorising them according to type instead of location. However, the most important yet unsaid step is to be committed to tidying up the space, and to remember to do it all at once instead of breaking it into smaller portions. It isn’t rocket science, but it is hard work. After watching the show, I really wanted to try this out for myself. Let it be known: This isn’t something I or most people would normally have a desire to do. So the question that really arises is: Why is that? Why are we only motivated when something becomes so popular?

Marie Kondo and her ingenious ways of organizations are undeniably helpful and have been becoming increasingly popular ever since Netflix first released the show. The internet is filled with discussions on the KonMari Methodhow it has changed people’s lives and that it’s the next big thing. There are countless articles analyzing the method and simplifying it further, which I found surprising for two reasons. The idea itself is self explanatory to a great extent and, as I mentioned earlier, it isn’t rocket science; it is simply the notion of building a habit that stays with us. 

Marie Kondo isn’t the first person that has tried revolutionizing the way we organize our lives, yet her way has now been turned into a movement and placed on a pedestal and as the ultimate way to get things right. I agree — it is indeed difficult to have everything in place all the time and having definite ways to go about doing so can make a difference. But are we really making that change? I love the show and how it not only shows the process of cleaning in such a clear manner, but the fact that they have remained true to her Japanese heritage and didn’t dub the language. It is indeed the small things that matter. However, I am beginning to question our immediate instinct to follow the popular trend, and this is not a new discussion. As a society, we have been asking this for a while now, and there is possibly no one answer, maybe it just boils down to human tendency. The problem lies in the fact that when we simply follow something because it’s popular or famous for that period of time, we learn it, but we don’t retain it.

I say this from a personal experience; I gave in to my urge and tried the KonMari method myself. The first time I did it, it was time-consuming, but it was fun. I enjoyed choosing between the gazillion pieces of clothing I own and asking myself whether that piece made me happy, and then folding it into tiny stackable rectangles. However, it wasn’t something that I would be able to keep up for more than a week. For those who do, kudos to you. You are a select minority that truly assimilated the technique into your lives. For the rest of us, the harsh truth (though we may not consciously agree) is that we probably did it to appreciate how aesthetic it looked for once and because it is the talk of the town right now. This time next week, the talk will be something else, and we will be trying that, already having forgotten the art of tidying up. We move from one idea, one trend to another at the speed of lightning. We are living in a world where sticking to one idea and completing it for an extended period of time is difficult. I believe that we need to possibly stop hyping ideas, trends and people, even, to such a great degree, and then just jump the boat. If we believe that something is truly worth the amount of attention we are giving it, we need to show it not through our articles or social media posts but by actually just continuing to do it. 

Given these thoughts, I still highly recommend watching the show on Netflix, for it is wonderful and does “spark joy,” and maybe even try your hand at tidying up your life in her way. Who knows, you might actually end up loving it and incorporating it into your daily life. In the process, you might just find the next revolutionary method of organizing our lives. If you do, let us all know, because I can already see the heap of clothes piling up at the back of my room.