The KonMarie Method Works on More Than Your Closet

by Stefanie Huff MD

Marie Kondo, author the The Japanese Art of Tidying Up, has taken over our cluttered world.  Her book has been available for years, but new interest in her method, the KonMarie Method, has surfaced with her Netflix series Tidying Up. People are cleaning out their closets, basements, garages with renewed vigor, taking into account her #1 question, “Does it spark joy?”  Watching the series inspired me to tackle my overflowing basement, and I learned more about life than just decluttering.

After reading Marie Kondo’s book earlier this year, I had an understanding of the importance of minimizing my material items, but it wasn’t until I watched her in action that her method hit home, literally and figuratively.  Her main concept is holding every item you own to determine if it “sparks joy”. While this may be easy enough for items like clothes and books, there are some items that confused me when thinking of it “sparking joy”. I found the answer to my conundrum in the Netflix series, where she says, essentially, “if you cannot decide if it sparks joy, decide if it is something you want to take forward with you in your life.”  She asks you to visualize what you want your life to look like and how does that item fit into that vision. For instance, my scrubs may not “spark joy” to me when I hold them, but they are an important part of my career, and they serve an important function in my life going forward. Or how about that jacket with the tags still on that might come in handy on some random day; is it truly the style I want to portray? This question of how do I visualize myself affected me more than the “spark joy” question, and I can see how it can be useful in other areas of my life besides decluttering.

Weight-loss is a decluttering of the body, or riding the body of unnecessary “fat clutter”.  I have been on my own weight-loss journey for the past year, and I learned about mindful eating and listening to my body. You, too, can use the tools I have learned to help with your own weight-loss, decluttering, or path to wellness. Visualization techniques are key to changing your mindset to start living the life you desire now, instead of waiting until you reach your goal. You must truly believe that the results will happen in order to see those results to fruition. Negative thoughts will only perpetuate failure. Obstacles to visualizing these results are 1. Vulnerability 2. Scarcity Mindset  3. Concern of wastefulness.

Vulnerability is also known as fear. Dr. Brene Brown, author of numerous books including Daring Greatly, discusses how feeling vulnerable restrains you from achieving your goals. If you have tried to lose weight time and time again, you may fear failing yet one more time. Instead of acknowledging feeling vulnerable, you may choose to not attempt losing weight again. While decluttering your house, you may fear what you will find, or the emotions that may arise while going through all of your belongings.  Instead of facing those emotions, recognizing them and pushing through, you choose to ignore the growing clutter and procrastinate. In both instances, you let fear overwhelm you. If you acknowledge your vulnerability and recognize that it may be difficult, it will be worth it in the end to see the results you want.

The scarcity mindset is the idea that if you don’t have something right now, you may never have another chance to experience it again. It’s like another way of saying FOMO, Fear Of Missing Out.  For instance, Dr. Katrina Ubell explains on her podcast “Weight-Loss for Busy Physicians”, if you are on vacation, you think “I will never have a chance to try this fudge ever again”, so you eat it, and likely overeat it to make sure you extract the most amount of pleasure from the experience. When actually, in our modern day and age, you could really have that fudge shipped to you in the comfort of your own home if you really truly needed it. Another example would be when I am at work on an overnight shift, I used to think I needed food in the middle of the night because I needed it for the energy and to keep me awake. I was worried I wouldn’t have food near me, when really, food is around 24/7 and if I ended up needed something to eat, I could have it. It’s first-world problems; we have essentially everything available to us all hours of the day and night. Same goes when you are deciding what to keep and what to get rid of with your clutter.  Do you really need that manual on your vacuum cleaner? Likely not. How many spatulas do you really need to cook with? If you did give away too many spatulas, you can go out and buy another one. Once you realize you are living in a house of abundance for what you need, you can release yourself from the scarcity mentality and your results will follow.

Along with the scarcity mentality is the concern for wastefulness. You don’t want something that is perfectly good to go to waste, so you keep it around your house in the event that you might be able to use it. And yet, it never gets used. Instead of holding onto something just in case, think about how it could actually be put to good use. Can the food in the pantry that is no longer on your eating plan go to a food bank?  Can the electronics gathering dust be recycled? How many toys do your kids actually play with? Some things may end up in the trash/landfill, and that is a lesson learned to not bring items like that into your house, but keeping it in your house just because you do not want to feel wasteful will not lead you to the vision you have for your house, body, or life.

As you choose to declutter your house and/or your body, keep this in the forefront of your mind, “What do I want my life to look like?”  If you can keep that as your driving force, you will begin to find more and more of what “sparks joy” in your life.