5 lessons I learned from Marie Kondo
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5 Lessons I Learned From Marie Kondo

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Like many people, somewhere around the new year I saw a new show in my Netflix suggestions: Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. To be honest, I was a bit confused. I had read her book – The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up – a year or to back, so I was familiar with her teachings. However, I wasn’t sure how they were going to turn that into a TV show.

It took me a few days but, one night, out of curiosity, I decided to push play. I was surprised by how much of an emotional reaction I had to the journeys these people were going through just by cleaning their houses. Especially since, if I’m perfectly honest, when I read her book it didn’t really “spark joy.”

So I watched another episode. And I started listening to the chatter on the Internet. I was surprised both by the amount of people who thought her ideas were perfection (and the number of my friends who were posting pictures of their tidying up process) and by the amount of people who thought they were simply awful. And I thought that for her ideas to strike that deep of a chord in people, there had to be something there worth investigating.

As I watched another episode, something clicked. Now, I’m not at a point in my life where I’m ready to put the full KonMari method into practice. I personally have neither the time nor the inclination. However, there have been a few underlying principles that, as I have put them into practice, I have been surprised at the major difference they have created in my home and life. Things that, no matter what you think of her overall method, I think are worth thinking about. Here are the 5 lessons I learned from Marie Kondo.

1. Identify (and Tackle) Your Stress Points

Marie Kondo talks a lot about creating a peaceful feeling in your home. Of crafting a refuge from the world. This is an idea that I love. One of the biggest ways to create that peaceful feeling is to identify the stress points in your house and then find a solution that eliminates it.

One of my stress points is when I can’t find something. In particular, I hate it when I can’t find my keys when I’m trying to leave my house. Whether they have fallen into the wrong pocket in my purse, stashed away in the diaper bag, or lost under a pile of paper on the counter, running around trying to find my keys so that I’m not late creates a feeling of stress to my mornings that I really could live without. I’ve thought several times that there had to be a better way, but I hadn’t been able to figure it out.

Part of what Marie Kondo teaches is that you can eliminate these stress points by having a designated, thoughtful place for everything. So I decided to sit down for a moment and really think about the problem. I knew that it was difficult to keep my keys in one spot because I was constantly transferring them between my work bag and my diaper bag. And with the layout of our house, there also isn’t a good spot for a key “bowl” or something of that nature.

This is where I usually got stuck and gave up hope of a solution. But I was inspired by Marie Kondo’s optimism (it really is kind of catching) and knew that there had to be a way. So I sat on my couch, staring at the kitchen and the doorway to the mudroom (i.e. where I usually exit). Where would be a good place that I could designate as the “key” spot?

Suddenly, I saw it. The side of the fridge. If I could put a row of hooks on the side of the fridge, I could easily hang my keys as I was coming in the door and pick them up on my way out. The only question was whether or not there was a magnetic or self-adhesive key hook strip. One quick look online revealed the happy truth: there is.

Just a short time later, the key hook strip was adhered to the side of the fridge. And every morning since then has been more peaceful for it.

This is a small, perhaps silly, example. But I’m telling you, as I’ve focused on solving my stress points, it’s amazing the difference it has created.

2. Gratitude

Part of Marie Kondo’s tidying up process involves going through all the items in your home and deciding which ones “spark joy” and which ones you are ready to let go. For any item that is to leave your possession (either because you are discarding it or donating it), Marie Kondo has her clients say “thank you” to the item before sending it on to its new home.

Now it may seem a little silly to say thank you to a piece of paper before your throw it into the trash. However, I love the attitude of gratitude that this instills for the items that have been a part of your journey. I’ve found that as I declutter areas of the house, saying thank you makes me much more aware of the blessings I have (and have had) in my life. While I can’t say I do it every time, it has created shift in my overall outlook from lamenting what I don’t have to being grateful for what I do.

3. More Does Not Equal Joy

Going along with gratitude, part of the reason Marie Kondo is focused on decluttering is so that you can actually enjoy the things that you have. No more are precious mementos stashed away in a box “somewhere in the garage.” Instead, you carefully select the things you want to, as she says, “bring forward with you” on your journey in life. Those things are given a designated place in your home and are taken care of (hence her special folding techniques). Not only do you show pride in the things that you own, but you can enjoy them fully.

In an age where we are continuously bombarded with the message that we need more “new” things in order to be happy, I love the idea that it is perfectly possible to have true joy with the things that we already own. We don’t need more things to be happy. We need to simply clear the clutter and surround ourselves with only the things that bring us joy. Which is much less than what most of us think.

4. It’s Everyone’s Job

All of the episodes (at least that I have seen) have focused on the tidying up process as a family/couple. One of the episodes in particular showcased a family of 4 (parents plus two kids) where everyone depended on the mom to do EVERYTHING. She cleaned everything, she knew where everything was, and everyone else could not function without her. Which, as you can imagine, caused her no end of stress.

Through the process, Marie Kondo kindly helped the family realize that the home is everyone’s responsibility. It is everyone’s job to follow the chosen cleaning system. It is everyone’s job to be responsible for their own items. It is everyone’s job to keep out the clutter. And it is everyone’s job to bring a peaceful atmosphere to the home.

Sometimes it can feel so much easier to do it all yourself (I know – I’ve been there). However, in the end, it creates an incredibly heavy load that is too  much for one person to bear. When everyone in the family commits to creating a home environment that is a peaceful refuge, the better life is for everyone.

5. Follow Your Passion

This has less to do with the KonMari method as it has to do with Marie Kondo as a person. Her book gets into it in much more detail, but Marie Kondo is a woman who LOVES taking a mess and tidying it up. She seriously has stories of her childhood where she would agonize over the perfect system to organize her room. Cleaning, decluttering, tidying – this is her passion. It is what sparks joy for her. And she has turned it into an empire.

Now I can’t say that I find my life’s passion in tidying up. However, her dedication to the thing that she loves is inspiring. It’s a wonderful reminder that no matter what you find joy in doing, there is a way to dedicate your life to it. And it is possible to make a living out of it. Marie Kondo’s passion for her subject is contagious. It has allowed her to spend her life doing what she loves – helping others find joy through tidying up. And if that is possible, then anything is.

Have you watched or read anything with Marie Kondo? What lessons have you learned?

If you liked it, share it!

54 Comments

  • Tracy Foster

    I read her book, and was eh…okay, kind of different, but with some really great concepts. I watched the show and LOVED her. I think there really is something to her methods. I am always trying to minimize. I do not have a perfect home by any means, but I am also not stressed by clutter & laundry. I never have piles of clean or dirty clothes. So, I guess I fall somewhere in-between.

    I am constantly working on #2 and #3. I think we can pretty much put your other points in our head, but #2 and #3, you have to constantly practice.

    Great post, thank you!

    • Janine

      You’re welcome! Like you, I’m happy to take what works for me from her system and let the rest go. And yes, gratitude and being content with what you have are an ongoing process

    • Rachel

      I have not watched “tidying up” yet but have seen the “buzz” all over the internet! I even referenced Marie Kondo to my husband over the weekend when I decided to do some “spring cleaning.” I decluttered and it felt great! I love #3- it is so true quantity does not equal quality.

  • Katie

    I love the idea of saying thank you to the things you are getting rid of. Like you said, it’s a good way to see what blessings you have had and what you have been through!

  • Tricia Snow

    For me, gratitude is the most important habit to practice and try to practice it daily. I worked with too many people who could not grasp the concept or have never even heard of it.

  • Meagan

    The part about making sure the entire family is involved in keeping the house nice is so important to me! My husband knew how to do literally no cleaning when we got married. I actually had to teach him that you actually had to use soap in order to get something actually clean (you can’t just use water). It’s because his mom is the only person that cleans or keeps house in that house.

    • Janine

      Good for you for helping your husband learn instead of just letting things continue on as they had been. Life is so much better when everyone shares the load.

  • Angela Greven

    I too love the idea of saying thank you to things that we donate or clean out, what a great concept. This show is on my watch list and now I want to see it even more! Thank you for the great post 💚

    • Janine

      Absolutely! It’s very much, everyone lives in this house, so everyone needs to take care of it. Which I wholeheartedly agree with.

  • Dina Ferguson

    I’m a neat freak, but I still don’t adhere to all of Marie Kondo’s rules. My takeaway was, clearing away all the muck in your house, creates space in your mind. I think you have to find meaningful pieces for you and forget the rest 😉

  • Ramae

    You’ve totally inspired me to watch her show! And I really need something to watch while waiting for the next season of Survivor! I used to be the mom that did everything, which was SO stressful! Where was she when my kids were little? Anyway, thank you for the well written and thoughtful post!

  • Pauline

    Keeping the house clean is definitely a team effort. Thanks for the tips and I’ll be sure to check out her book and documentary.

  • Leigh Ann

    I’ve never heard of Marie Kondo before but after reading your post, I want to check out her method. I can always use tips on tidying up but it’s her life message that intrigues me. You did a great job summarizing some of her lessons. Makes me want to read more!

  • Brittany

    I completely agree that the home is everyone’s job! It is so difficult as a mother to have all of the responsibility fall on your shoulders. We need to ensure we are having kids and husbands take responsibility too!

    • Janine

      And what a valuable lessons to your kids to not only see your husband involve but to learn that sense of responsibility for themselves. Its a game changer!

    • Janine

      Isn’t it crazy? As I’ve gone through some of my old stacks I’m like, why in the world did I feel like I needed this in my life?

  • Stacey

    I’ve been working on being more gracious over the past few months, and it’s been life changing, so I am definitely on board there. Also, why buy stuff when you can save up for a trip? I love having little trips to look forward to.

  • Cindy

    I just posted about this show too! I read the book years ago and appreciated it. The series though delivers an emotional component that surprised me! I teared up many times, watching Marie help her clients. I love how she greets the house, and realized I’ve lived in my home many years and yet I do not communicate in a positive way with my house. I’m inspired to make changes in my home and how I live in it.

    • Janine

      I definitely connected with her concepts much more through the show than through the book. There’s something about her presence that is captivating.

  • Dawnmarie @ EnjoyingtheDays

    I keep seeing people talking about this new program, and I have resisted it. If I have to be honest, that is probably because I am tentative about how I might be pushed. I both want to finish the daunting task of clearing out the house after decades of life’s collecting and am intimated by the task.

    • Janine

      I totally understand. Which is why I’ve decided to just take the parts that are feasible for right now. Would i love to do the whole house? Yes! Am I in a point where I can do it? Not at all. But even the small changes have made a big difference!

  • Shirley

    My sister was talking about the show the other day. Now I’m gonna have to check it out and maybe look for her book. I believe in self improvement and this is one area I need to improve on. Thanks for this post.

  • Susan Franklin

    I had not previously heard of Marie Kondo before today when I read about her in another post. Fascinating! I have not considered myself organized in any way, but just neat and tidy. I liked what you mentioned about removing the stress areas… that for me is the dust bunnies I see on the floors, which means I need to clean and I hate house cleaning….hmmm that’s going to be a tough one! I have some things in my closet I could declutter – and it might be easier to do that if I do it with the thankful heart! I love your writing style, you are engaging and honest and thoughtful. We don’t have Netflix, so I’m not sure if I’ll be able to watch her series, but I definitely am interested in learning more. I think some of her concepts sound very healthy for our well-being! Thanks for sharing your 5 lessons learned.

  • Dennis

    This is a really good article! It’s so important to find your stress point and take action to tackle them. Otherwise, they’ll just drain your energy. All these are great suggestions. Thanks for sharing.

  • Kat

    I didn’t watch any of Marie Kondo’s show but it seems like you really got a lot out of it. I like the idea of recognizing gratitude for items when you donate them. Personally, I’m planning a thrift shop trip to pick up what everyone else is getting rid of! haha

  • Leah

    I enjoyed reading your thoughts! I’m a fan (but then again, I’m a minimalist who loves just about every book on tidying up and decluttering!). I agree that MORE does not equal joy!

  • Rosie Law

    I have been watching the Netflix series as well. Like you I have not had the time to follow the process throughout my entire home. I have gone thru and downsized the amount of clothes in the house. I love the idea that if it doesn’t spark joy then you should donate it. Just that first step has helped with getting started with # 1 and #2.

  • julie Christy

    I have always struggled with clutter. Everywhere I go in my house is clutter. So I just recently heard about Marie. I am very intrigued by her methods and want to learn more. Thanks for sharing this info. I will have to look for her show!

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