Does it spark joy?
It’s a misleadingly simple question.
When you hold something you own, do you feel a little bubble of happiness? A flutter in your heart? If yes, keep it. If not, get rid of it.
That’s Marie Kondo’s philosophy, which she explores in her new Netflix series “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo”.
Marie Kondo is the author of “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” host of the Marie Kondo YouTube channel, and the creator of the KonMari method. The method promotes a process of total life decluttering, including cleaning out by category rather than by room, as many other declutter experts recommend. But what is essential to the KonMari method is the instruction to dispose of anything that doesn’t “spark joy.”
The eight-episode first season follows Kondo as she acts as a consultant for several families, helping them declutter their lives using the KonMari method. Along the way, Kondo gives decluttering tips to both the family and to the viewer directly.
Kondo splits items into five categories: clothing, books, papers, komono (miscellaneous, including kitchen and garage), and sentimental items. The Netflix series shows how she works with families to deal mostly with clothing, komono, and sentimental items.
She begins each consultation by greeting the home, thanking it for the shelter it gives. It’s an action seemingly inspired by Eastern philosophy — and often surprises the family. She then walks through the home to assess the damage.
Many families seem to struggle with copious amounts of clothing or extra kitchen equipment, rather than the knick-knacks or meaninglessly full shelves we often think of when we imagine “clutter.” While the families may have brought these objects in their homes out of a “need,” many of them sit untouched in closets or drawers.
Each family has called in Kondo for different reasons. The first episode works with the Friend family, who are trying to simplify their materialistic and consumeristic lifestyles. Other call in Kondo to deal with moving problems, or post-retirement pileup.
But Kondo’s philosophy always stays the same: Does an item spark joy?
Nothing that brings someone joy can be considered clutter. If it makes you happy, then it’s necessary.
Kondo walks families through the process of not only filtering through their possessions to keep only the necessities, but how to properly store the surviving items. Clothing gets folded to be “filed” in drawers. Toys and tools are stored in clear bins. Pictures and memorabilia are arranged in a display.
Kondo does all these things cheerfully, with patience and lightness. She bounces around, touching items to “wake,” them and giggling over babies in the homes. And while the show is technically reality television, Kondo’s brightness and care makes it feel genuine. She clearly enjoys what she does and takes pride in her business and helping others.
Tidying Up with Marie Kondo is essentially an easy-viewing, beginner’s guide to decluttering based on the KonMari method and hosted by the creator herself. Kondo shows not only the family her method, but explicitly shows the audience specific tricks they can use. It tricks them into thinking it’s really that simple, sparks motivation to throw away the closet, and launches the viewer down a path to finding joy by cleaning out their life.