Konmari tips

Some things to note about the Konmari method (continued from here):

The phrase, “bring me joy” as well as thanking your items for having done their job has received some criticism online. Let me explain a few things about this.

First, Japanese culture is not western culture. Their primary religion is Shintoism which values aesthetics and our emotional or spiritual connection to them. Think of Japanese gardens, feng shui, or the tea ceremony. Everything holds importance. I find this to be accurate in the realm of decluttering. We hold onto something we don’t use or that isn’t useful. Why do we keep it? Because in some way, we have an emotional connection to it.  Maybe there’s a memory attached to it, a hope attached to it, or a dollar sign attached to it. If we weren’t attached to it, we’d probably have let it go a long time ago.

Second, the word “joy” poses a problem because for some, material items shouldn’t or can’t bring joy. Think of it this way instead, “Does this make me smile?” Or, “How does this add to my quality of life?” The point isn’t what word you use, the point is to understand why you’re keeping your possessions.

Another thing to keep in mind, especially if money is an issue (How many people don’t have that issue?) is that it might not be feasible to get rid of things purely because they don’t bring you joy, because the other option is sitting naked on the floor. Also, if you don’t like to cook, 99% of the kitchen isn’t gonna bring you joy. But you still have to eat. When this is true, you have to ask, “Does this item serve its purpose?” Maybe you hate your work pants, but replacing them isn’t affordable right now. That’s fine. They’re serving the purpose of keeping you covered. But when you do replace them (and you will, clothes don’t last forever) replace them with something you do like.

Third, thanking an item for performing its job is often criticized because it is an item incapable of human thought or emotion. This is true. But just like forgiveness isn’t always for the transgressor, thanking your socks isn’t about your socks. We don’t have a culture of gratitude in America or most of western society. As such, enough is never enough. But when we verbalize gratitude – and really mean it – our perception changes. You can be thankful that Aunt Maude gave you that ugly sweater because she loves you, even if it’s two sizes two big. Then you can let it go because it served its purpose as an expression of love. See what I mean? It’s about being grateful that you have enough.

Tips for living with other people:

The book recommends leaving everyone else’s stuff alone. When it comes to your significant other – leave his or her stuff alone. Just don’t touch it. If they see what you’re doing and want to join you, hand them the book and leave them alone.

When it comes to teenagers: tell them what you’re doing. Explain the process. Tell them what your expectations are (no clothes on the floor, for example). Support their efforts. Tell them they don’t have to keep things out of guilt – and mean it. Then leave them alone. They may only get rid of crumpled paper and empty water bottles. That’s ok. They’ll get there.

For younger kids: work with them. Tell them that you’re going to sort through their things and make it easier to play/get dressed/do chores. Set some ground rules. Ours were: If it doesn’t fit or is broken or stained, it goes. Beyond that, ask them, “Do you like playing with this still?” Or, “Do you like wearing this?” They’ll probably keep more than you want. But they’ll also surprise you. My two little hoarders got rid of an entire trash bag of toys and clothes they didn’t want.

For toddlers: you know your child. You know what they do and don’t like. You’re in charge. They won’t remember anyway.


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