Marie Kondo first came onto the scene with her #1 New York Times Bestselling book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, in which she teaches readers how to prioritize their belongings and organize their life. It was recently turned into a popular show on Netflix, where viewers are able to watch firsthand as Kondo works with clients to do just this.
In the first episode of Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, the Friend family seeks Kondo’s expert help in de-cluttering their home. Kondo is internationally known for her ability to work with clients in order to re-arrange their households and help them get rid of unnecessary items.
The family sums up their desire to seek Kondo’s help at the beginning of the episode. One of the first things the father says is, “I feel like our house is a home but I feel like it’s a constant struggle to be.” He mentions how little frustrations add up due to the fact that he is so busy with work and exhausted by the end of the day. He believes his family “gets the worst” of him, which makes him noticeably downcast to admit. Kondo begins the episode detailing her mission: she does not only want to de-clutter the Friends’ home, but to help them focus on what really matters in the process.
Gratitude seems to be at the heart of everything Kondo teaches—and it is something we can all learn from, no matter what the state of our home is.
Before beginning, Kondo has a process of what she calls “greeting the home.” She asks the family to do this with her. They each close their eyes and thank the house for what it has provided for them. Afterward, the mother gets emotional and begins to cry. She says she is grateful for what the house has been for them in their lives up to this point, and she hopes she can be less stressed once she finds a way to manage it better. Kondo explains her process and teaches the couple that the real task of “de-cluttering” is to be grateful for what each of us has.
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Gratitude seems to be at the heart of everything Kondo teaches—and it is something we can all learn from, no matter what the state of our home is. Her famous process comes up in her first step of sorting through clothing. She asks her clients to hold each item in their hands and consider how it makes them feel. If they do not feel joy, then they should get rid of the item—but not without thanking it first for what it has done for them.
The way in which Kondo comes into the homes of her clients is inspiring. She doesn’t enter their lives with any judgment, but rather exudes excitement. The families immediately feed off of her energy. In the first episode, one of the young children reaches out to Kondo, asking to be held having just met her. Not only can we learn from Kondo’s groundbreaking work with her clients and the lessons she teaches them, but her mannerisms are truly the way in which she is successful.
Without emitting sincere kindness, it is possible she would not be as helpful to them or make as lasting of an impact.
Maybe our homes need to be “Marie-Kondo-ed,” but maybe some other part of our lives needs this, too. It might do us all good to hold each of our habits, relationships and traditions in our hands for a moment. These aspects of life will not always make us happy in a momentary, materialistic way. However, if we enter into this process and take a moment to carefully consider how we spend our time, we might end up carefully discarding those practices that do not bring us what is beyond momentary happiness: joy.
By the end, we may just find our life to be a bit emptier, but more full.