Can decluttering your physical space ‘spark joy’ and leave a mindful space for your home life?

There is a new trend in the USA called ‘tidying up’ led by Marie Kondo. Marie extols the virtues of using her tried and tested KonMari method based on Japanese Shinto principles and ‘hikidashi’ to tidy clothes, your kitchen, garage, paper and miscellaneous sentimental items. The method involves keeping items that ‘spark joy’ in an organised way that will bring harmony to your mental health and physical space. That’s how I interpreted what I saw and heard from my friends and family.

I was introduced to the method whilst on a trip to the USA in April when my cousin in Portland, a University professor, sat me in front of Netflix to watch an episode of Marie Kondo’s ‘Tidying Up’ whilst she collected her son from an after-school activity. “Watch this“, she said enthusiastically, “It will change your life“.

Expecting a profoundly emotional documentary, what I actually watched was a polite Japanese lady teaching me how to fold my clothes and “spark joy“ by decluttering and organising my home.

Five days later I was treated to a viewing of the contents of my cousin’s clothes drawers which contained neatly folded and ordered clothes.

My next stop was San Francisco where my friend, a busy, international travelling senior executive mum with two teenage sons, showed me her athletic wear drawers, which contained neatly folded and organised clothes using the ‘KonMari’ method.

A few days later at my cousin’s house in Arizona – an entrepreneur mum who owns a business with her partner, I was shown into her walk-in closet where she had also deployed the ‘KonMari’ method for organising her clothes.

Never before had my friends and family taken such pride in showing me their wardrobes but not in relation to their new purchases.

They could easily find what they wanted, saving time and ‘micro-stress’, particularly first thing in the morning. They could see what clothes were in their drawers, preventing excess buying, and the order bestowed was mood enhancing. Next was to teach this method to their partner’s and children.

This is a revolutionary new method of organising, catching on like the 5:2 or paleo diet, and it is certainly benefiting busy working women. As with all good things in life, there was a degree of pain they had to endure to get to the final result and discipline in maintaining continuity.

“Do you want to lead a life that sparks joy? There is only one thing that you must do, and that is to tidy your home.

Choose to keep only the things that speak to your heart and let go of everything else.

Tidying leads to a life that is peaceful and full of joy.

It’s also a path to self-discovery, mindful living and fulfilment”

On reaching my home in London, I emptied all the clothes from my wardrobes and drawers onto a bed. I heaved a sigh at the mountain in front of me. Next starts the process of retaining the clothes that ‘spark joy’ and saying farewell to the clothes I will never fit into or wear again. Alas dear size 10s – off you go.

Try it for yourself. Marie Kondo has a bestselling book, ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying’. If the Netflix series is anything to go by, it will be a cathartic decluttering process, and may even heal some rifts at home.

Arpita Dutt is a busy employment lawyer and founding partner of BDBF LLP.

Image courtesy of www.goodhousekeeping.com. Video link courtesy of Marie Kondo YouTube.