Get tidy, get the life you want: Marie ‘KonMari’ Kondo shows you how at SXSW

Posted March 11th, 2017

Seeing Marie Kondo fold clothes live in person -- sending love through her palms and making items stand upright -- might be what the world needs right now. She was a gentle and calm presence in the midst of the South by Southwest storm Saturday in her talk, “Organize the World: Design Your Life to Spark Joy.”

Kondo became a sensation in the United States after her book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing,” hit a chord with our often-overloaded consumer culture. At the core of her KonMari Method is joy: If something doesn’t “spark joy” in you, let it go. Fans of her approach get it (I am one), but the sometimes “woo-woo” aspect can be an easy target for cynics. (Also: “Joy” can expand to include a practical purpose, such as the clicker that made her presentation go smoothly, she said.)

She demonstrated how to figure out the joy, so helpful for those of us left wondering, “Am I doing it right?” after reading her book. Does an object make your body feel light or heavy? Is your body drawn up or do you sink down?

Check out a “Statesman Shots” podcast episode about Marie Kondo’ing your life. 

Her talk also touched on her life story: Her early passion for tidying, her crisis during high school, when she thought tidying meant discarding. She kept throwing things away, got more and more stressed, finally having a physical crisis. “I’m probably the only person in the world to pass out because of tidying too much,” she said. While she was out -- for two hours! -- a voice told her “Look at things more carefully.”

“I don’t know if it was the voice of the tidying god or just my imagination,” she said, but when she woke up, everything in her room seemed shiny. That’s when she knew her way of tidying had been wrong.

She showed dramatic photos of before-and-after client projects, along with a video of some clients she’s helped. 

You can read about her four rules for tidying, but know that the first is the most important and sets the tone for the process: “Imagine your ideal life.”

Before you tidy, you need to do something that our consumer-centric culture makes easy to avoid: Face yourself. What do you want your life to be? If your life is not what you want it to be, then you just might benefit from the dramatic shock-to-your-mindset that the KonMari method sparks.