Marie Kondo Wants to Help You Reclaim Your Space and Find What Sparks Joy

If you’re suffering from the too-much-stuff blues, there’s much wisdom to be found in the work of Marie Kondo, the multi-hyphenate organizational consultant, bestselling author, and now Netflix star who wants to help you tidy your life.

There’s no place like home. Right? We prize our personal space, but too often, clutter — from that growing stack of books and magazines we promised ourselves we’d read to those 25 cocktail dresses we’re going to wear … eventually — turns what should be a sanctuary from the stress of the world into a site of chaos.

That’s when Marie Kondo comes knocking. The Japanese organization guru has experienced a new wave of popularity since the launch of her Netflix series, “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo.” The show, based on principles she lays out in her book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” has millions of people ready to de-mess their space and try a more minimal approach to living.

Before you reach for the trash bags, it’s important to understand that the key to Kondo-fying isn’t merely tossing out old stuff. It’s about approaching your life and your living space with an increased sense of mindfulness and appreciation. “When I began tidying as a teenager, I thought tidying meant eliminating possessions or owning as little as possible,” Kondo shares. “But I never felt satisfied using this approach. Over time, I shifted my thinking. I realized that tidying is not about throwing out as many things as possible; it’s about focusing on what you want to hold on to in your life based on whether or not it sparks joy.”

Kondo recommends revisiting your possessions by category, such as clothes, shoes, books and, eventually, more sentimental items such as photos and letters. Compile all the items you own in the category of your choice and hold one piece at a time, quieting your body and mind to feel for a reaction of joy. If you get those warm fuzzies, keep it. If not, it goes.

If tidying up your entire life or having a heart-to-heart with your high-heels seems like too big a task for today, Kondo suggests starting your journey with a simple target. “In terms of forming a habit, I recommend learning how to fold the right way,” she shares. “Once you’ve mastered folding clothes the KonMari way, you’ll discover how exhilarating it is to get dressed and undressed each day – and I think that feeling will motivate you to take the next step of the KonMari Method™.”

And there’s another step towards tidiness that you can take without wrestling with a fitted sheet or perfecting the Kondo chop: “It’s important to practice gratitude,” says Kondo. “Thank the items in your life for all they do for you. It’s a small mind-shift that has big effects.”

Emily Gawlak