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Apartment Therapy: Can you explain what “kurashi” means?
Marie Kondo: My new book is inspired by the Japanese concept of kurashi, which means “way of life.” I wanted readers to be able to visualize their ideal life from the moment they wake up until the end of each day, free from any limitations.
MK: “Kurashi at Home” is filled with various inspirational visuals to show readers what applying the KonMari Method™ to every aspect of their lives can look like in order to have a joyful morning, day, and evening. I intentionally developed this book in a very visual format to serve as a guide for both those who have already adopted the KonMari Method and for those who might be new to the philosophy. I wanted to provide a way for people to learn how to visualize their ideal life so that their homes, activities and relationships can truly spark joy every day.
AT: Your new book focuses a lot on visuals, with photos of spaces. Why is it so important to take before and after images?
MK: The book contains lots of images to help you visualize the life you aspire to live, with examples of how you can store and organize items in your home. As for taking before and after photos, it’s important to take your before photo, because that will be the last time you will ever see your home or space in that state! When you complete the tidying festival, you’re able to realize the ideal lifestyle you once envisioned come to life. The before and after pictures can also be motivational forces and help you maintain your space in the future.
AT: How does one make decisions with gratitude?
MK: An important part of the KonMari Method™ is showing gratitude to the things that you own by taking care of them and thanking them for their service. Practicing gratitude and making it a part of a daily routine will help you in making intentional decisions in your life. Knowing what you are grateful for puts your life in perspective and hones your sense of joy and appreciation.
AT: How can you teach children to let things go that they don’t need anymore?
MK: Discarding is not the point of the KonMari Method, but it is an important part of the process. When it comes to teaching your children this part of the process, it provides an opportunity for them to learn from their play time. You can encourage them to select their favorite toy to keep if they play with it every day, and for items they have not been playing with for a while, ask them if they would be willing to donate it so another child can enjoy playing with it. Also, reminding them that there is limited space in the house to store all their toys or books, and if the toy bin is full and can’t fit a new toy in the bin, they get to choose which toys to keep. Explaining each step is helpful when you are trying to teach your children how to tidy.
AT: You speak of nighttime rituals that help sleep. What are your nighttime rituals?
MK: One of the rituals I do before going to sleep is to thank the people and the items in my life that helped me that day in my mind. Thinking about what sparked joy and who helped me spend a joyful day relaxes my mind, and I am able to get a good night’s rest as my body is filled with a sense of gratitude.
AT: Have you ever had an item that didn’t spark joy that you chose to keep, only to realize that eventually it did provide you with joy?
MK: I do regret letting go of small kitchen scissors that my younger sister gave to me a few years ago for my children’s food. I thought I would never use them, so I gave them away to another mother. Now that my children are getting older, I sometimes think those scissors would come in handy and be much easier to use than a knife! The lesson here is that if you’re not sure how an item is supposed to function, it’s important to research it first before letting it go. I also wanted to note that what sparks joy for people will change throughout their lives too. What is important is the process of examining what brings you joy each time it changes and being attuned to your sense of joy as you transition through different phases of life.
AT: With so many people working from home, how can you take the lessons of the KonMari Method and put them to use in your workspace?
MK: Another one of my recent books, “Joy at Work”, applies the KonMari Method™ to professional life, whether it’s an office or a home office. My top tip to keeping your office tidy is to choose a home for each item on your desk. Returning the item you used at the end of each day will help you maintain a tidy space.
AT: How can you utilize the lessons of the KonMari method when not every space or item in the home belongs to you?
MK: The KonMari Method enables you to have meaningful conversations with the people in your life, and we all know that open communication is important in a relationship, even a co-living relationship. Taking inventory of things and talking about the life you envision in the future can spark conversations about larger plans in life. First of all, make sure to tidy the areas that you have full control over, like your own bedroom, a closet or even a bookshelf. Once you complete your own tidying festival, have a conversation with your roommate. Oftentimes, when one person is living a joy-sparking life because they tidied their space, the others that live in the same home tend to get inspired to tidy themselves. Examine together the objects and spaces that you share that may be distracting to each of you and your goals, and plan an ideal lifestyle that sparks joy for the both of you. I encourage people to listen to others about the objects that they are holding onto; you might learn more about them by hearing why something sparks joy for them.