While it's easy to laugh at the idea of talking to your possessions and greeting your home every day, this book goes much deeper into the ways we relate to our homes, and how that relationship affects other areas of our life.
I first heard of a similar concept from Cheryl Richards maybe 20 years ago—that clearing out superfluous things from your life, not only rids you of stuff that takes up physical space, but often takes with it excesses emotional baggage that holds you back in other areas of your life. Her approach was a little less poetic than Marie’s, but the intent was basically the same.
The simplicity of Marie’s system, however, and the idea that we really should only keep things that spark joy in our lives seem very timely. We are continuously bombarded by the media telling us we need stuff we don’t, and showing us how great our life will be when we get it. The reality is, however, most of the stuff we bring into our homes is simply clutter. We would barely notice if it was suddenly gone.
Marie’s first point is that we need to clear out the existing clutter, and the second is that we need to evaluate anything new we bring into our homes by asking, in both cases, “does it spark joy in me?” If it truly brings happiness into your home, then go ahead and buy it, because that’s the ultimate goal! She then goes into a number of clever ways of organizing the things you chose to keep.
While she brings a strong Japanese flavor to her organizational approach, the Shakers had a similar storage philosophy, as did Benjamin Franklin who said, "a place for everything and everything in its place.” When every item has a home it makes putting things away almost automatic, which keeps clutter at bay. Basically, the idea is timeless. So even though the general concepts may not be new, the personality Marie Kondo brings to them, the simplicity of implementation, and the sincerity of her beliefs, are what make this book a true gem.