Almost exactly two years a ago, I wrote a review of Marie Kondo’s The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Now she’s back with Spark Joy! I enjoyed looking it over, and I was careful to borrow it from the library so it wouldn’t clutter up my house forever.
Marie Kondo’s first book was largely theoretical. Spark Joy was more practical, and I liked it better on the whole. The first book said you should only keep items that “spark joy”, which left me wondering what to do about the many necessary objects I needed to have but didn’t love. Kondo eloquently addresses that question on pageS 22-23 of the sequel:
“A simple design that puts you at ease, a high degree of functionality that makes life simpler, a sense of rightness, or the recognition that a possession is useful in our daily lives–these, too, indicate joy…if something clearly sparks no joy, then obviously we aren’t going to agonize about discarding it. When we do feel torn about something, there are three possible reasons: the item once brought us joy but has fulfilled it’s purpose; it does bring us joy, but we don’t realize it; or we need to keep it regardless of whether or not it sparks joy…the things we need definitely make our lives happier. Therefore, we should treat them as things that bring us joy.”
The ideas in both books frustrate me a little because I am in a living situation where I can’t put everything into practice. I live with my parents and most areas of the house are outside of my jurisdiction. In addition to discussing the joys of tidying up as a family, Kondo alludes to my dilemma towards the end of the book (p.258)when she says, “Naturally, the kind of living space that brings a person joy depends on that particular individual’s values. We can’t change others. And we should never force someone else to tidy. Only when we accept unconditionally people whose values differ from our own can we really say that we have finished tidying.”
Practical Steps to Joy
Spark Joy is a reference book of tidying tips. I particularly enjoyed looking at her “correct order for tidying” on page 7. I tried out her folding and organizing tips. I’m not sure that her insistence on hanging things from low to high or arranging things from light to dark matters all that much, but I do like the look of my drawers better now. She recommends putting even your dressers and shelves in the closet, and I am actually considering it. Anything to make this room more liveable!
Marie suggests removing things like unnecessary labels and packaging, especially those with text, to reduce “noise.” This seems like a good idea to me, and one I hadn’t thought of.
I had an opportunity while traveling recently to put into use the idea of having the things that bring me joy visible, where I could enjoy them. My necklaces were placed neatly on the dresser and my scarves draped artfully on the chair. I don’t always feel free to do this at home, but it was nice while it lasted!
As with the first book, Spark Joy occasionally has statements I find a little hokey or at least overstated. “Balling your socks and stockings, or tying them into knots, is cruel. Please put an end to this practice today.” P. 98
End Sock Cruelty!
On the other hand, I appreciated some advice that might seem hokey to others. Kondo suggests that when getting rid of dolls or stuffed animals, you blindfold them and treat them with dignity. I actually loved that. I’m still annoyed that my husband casually talked about me getting rid of my Cabbage Patches as if they weren’t my first children!
Kondo insists that tidying should be fun and when it ceases to be so, you should take a break and spend some time on gratitude. I agree that tidying can be a “festival” and, in manageable chunks, can be great fun. I am excited to continue towards my goal of life long joy, remembering her warning that:
“Just because it feels good is no reason to become a discarding machine. The act of discarding things on its own will never bring joy to your life.”
All in all I enjoyed the book very much, but my favorite part? The one line in the back where it said she now has a daughter. Part of me hopes that she will publish another book about tidying with kids in the picture; part of me hopes she’ll say, “I’m sorry, people! What was I thinking!?” Ha ha ha…