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Why the KonMari Method and Tidying up Is the New Dieting

Updated on February 20, 2019
Carolyn M Fields profile image

Carolyn Fields is a lifelong learner, musician, author, world traveler, truth enthusiast, and all-around bon vivant.


Tidying Up

If you’ve been living under a rock, allow me to fill you in on a new phenomenon that’s sweeping not just the USA, but the globe as well. Marie Kondo, a Japanese organizing consultant, has single handedly recreated the professional organizing business. Starting with her book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing,” she seems to have struck a chord with the collective consciousness. Let’s admit it: we all have way too much stuff. And yet we seem to love getting rid of it in big, cathartic events. Reminds me somewhat of Hoarding: Buried Alive, but without all the bed bugs and cockroaches.

The KonMari Method

In brief, the KonMari method is based on ancient Shinto practices of minimalism, and gratitude for the “things” in our lives. Whether that’s an old T-shirt from High School, or a brand new coffee maker, she teaches appreciation for the “service” that these items provide. So far, so good.

Next, the method helps us understand that we need to reduce the overall amount of “stuff” we have, so that we can truly appreciate what’s left. So, if you own over 100 T-shirts, they can become a heavy weight that needs to be organized, stored, repaired, and cleaned. If you only own seven T-shirts (one for each day of the week), then each item will have special significance to you. Oh, you might say, that’s my Monday T-shirt, or that’s the T-shirt I bought in Las Vegas after I won a jackpot.

In reducing the overall amount of material goods that you own, you must choose based upon which items “spark joy” for you. Once again going back to our T-shirt example, if I own a stained and torn T-shirt that makes me feel frumpy when I wear it, then it gets tossed. If, on the other hand, it reminds me of a fantastic vacation trip each time I put it on, then it stays. Now multiply this concept for each and every item you own, from coffee mugs to cars. Perhaps I’m oversimplifying here, but that’s my take on it.

New You

Here is the thing that makes the KonMari method different from other professional downsizers and organizers: it’s a mindset, not just a physical exercise. Items are systematically organized and made “tidy” by category. Each category is an exercise in learning more about yourself, your life, and what you value the most. It can be very inspirational. Or not. It really depends upon how much effort you put into the activity.


Marie’s books have been around for a while, but the KonMari method didn’t really take off until Netflix released a series based upon it in 2019. As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. Also, there is something gratifying about peeking into other people’s homes, and watching them sort through all of their belongings. It’s voyeurism disguised as self-help. I’m not criticizing it, just making an observation. And yes, I have watched a couple of episodes, so the cat is out of the bag.

Everyone Has an Opinion

It would seem that the KonMari method has developed quite a following. However, whenever someone is an exception success, there are going to be critics right along with the fans. Some people are upset with her Shintoism-based method, calling it “woo-woo nonsense” and worse. One writer claimed that this is subtle racism, suggesting that “white” people just can’t handle a successful Asian woman.

I can’t speak for everyone, but as far as I’m concerned (I’m white, by the way), I love her concept. I don’t see any malice in it at all. People who are twisting her method in order to find some dark plot are sadly misguided. I, for one, think it’s high time we all looked at our tendency use “retail therapy” to mask our emotions. The “stuff” in our lives doesn’t buy us happiness. Perhaps the people with the negative reactions to her method are having difficulty accepting that fact.

What About You?

There are many more details that I have left out of this brief description. Have I inspired you to find out more? Or are you headed to the mall right now? I’d love to hear about your reaction in the comments below.

What do you think about the KonMari Method?

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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Carolyn Fields


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