Marie Kondo and the “Spark Joy” phenomenon

Alternate Name: Uniquely Japanese- Tokimeku

Featured image credit New York Times

ときめくor tokimeku is the Japanese word that is translated in English to “sparks joy”. If you are not living under a rock you will surely have seen the Netflix show Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, that is if you missed her New York Times No.1  bestselling book “The Life-Changing Magic Art of Tidying”. There have been many articles in the News about opportunity shops being overwhelmed with vast amounts of people’s discarded belongings since the show started airing at the beginning of January. Apparently the country is in the “grip” of a Marie Kondo-inspired decluttering frenzy. The show has had an impact on many people and some of the consequences were probably unexpected.

We started watching the show last week. If you have not seen it, Marie Kondo, a very, very cute Japanese woman, who is only 145cm tall, goes into different American families’ homes and teaches them how to sort through everything they own and discard things no longer needed. She doesn’t unceremoniously ditch things in to rubbish bags, but holds each thing, individually, to see if it “sparks joy”. If it does, it stays, if not, it is thanked for it’s service and then discarded. After 3 episodes my daughter and Super Sake Boy’s daughter have both been bitten by the tidying bug. They are sorting their clothes and their belongings and finding what sparks joy in them. It is an exciting prospect that 2 of our 4 kids are going to be super-organised for the start of school this year.

I read Marie Kondo’s book several years ago, on the recommendation of a very good friend, who shares my love of tidiness and order. I did start my KonMari (her trademarked method) journey at that time. I never actually finished, as I was disrupted by love. The parts of my wordrobe that I had done, however, remain immaculate and have done so even through a house move. Now, I will continue to do the rest of my wardrobe. My kitchen is really almost done, organically, and Super Sake Boy has started folding his clothes, KonMari style. (To my surprise, my 18 year old son just overheard us talking about the show and he is also watching it, loving it and being inspired. THIS is a big shock and a welcome surprise).

tidying up book

The “sparking joy” element of the KonMari method is translated thus from Japanese. The true meaning of the word tokimeku is much more complex. In the Japanese version of the book, Marie Kondo uses the expression 心ときめくもの or kokoro tokimeku mono. This expression literally means “heart flutter things”. Or something that resonates with you, makes your heart sing, does it for you. All of these figurative sayings share a similar meaning. The idea is that if you surround yourself with only these things, you will feel at peace and getting rid of the unwanted clutter contributes to this also. I have many things which I really love, some inexplicably. Things that make me feel a warm glow, a sense of completeness. I am teetering on the edge of giving my whole house the KonMari treatment. Have you read it, watched it or tried the process. If you have, have you found it beneficial and has it lasted??

2 thoughts on “Marie Kondo and the “Spark Joy” phenomenon

Leave a Reply