Marie Kondo takes on a new role: life coach


Move, “hygge”. You too, “lykke”, “lagom”, “niksen” and “bella figura”. Yet another international buzzword has arrived in town, laden with the promise of improving lives.

“Kurashi at Home: How to Organize Your Space and Achieve Your Ideal Life” by Marie Kondo, fresh out of Ten Speed ​​Press, is the Japanese organizing guru’s latest book and the first to delve into her native language to give a special touch to the title. “Kurashi” means “lifestyle”.

Drawing on Kondo’s famous organizational method of sorting belongings to determine which ones produce a shiver of pleasure, the book invites us to discover what sparks joy not only among our possessions, but also in our environments, relationships, and daily activities.

“Tidying up means dealing with all the ‘stuff’ in life,” she writes. “So what do you really want to get in order?”

In a Zoom call, Kondo recently explained that the word “kurashi” conveys the comfort and serenity of everyday routines, more than its English version, lifestyle (lifestyle).

“I love the sound of certain Japanese words, and kurashi is one of them,” Kondo said through an interpreter.

Readers familiar with her 2010 book “The Magic of Tidying Up” or her two Netflix series will find similar ideas here in concentrated form. The KonMari method of gathering, petting, and purging that caused a million trips to the dump is recapitulated on a single page.

Also back is Kondo’s signature animism – his recommendation to look at the world from the perspective of an object, to understand how it can look squished or smothered in an undifferentiated pile of stuff. As did his insistence on thanking the belongings for their services before disposing of them.

She admits to talking to the tub as she dries it off, saying, “It’s amazing how you’re always so clean and mold-free.” As always, she appeals to our best angels — at least the ones that shop.

This hardcover book, however, shows as well as tells. More than a hundred Instagram-worthy photographs document tranquil bedroom details, minimalist vignettes of elegant decorative objects, pants hanging from closets (surprisingly, given the author’s passion for folding), and the author herself, looking relaxed and happy.

The light and blond interiors are not Kondo’s. “We were trying to give you an idea of ​​what Marie’s lifestyle is like,” said Julie Bennett, the book’s editor. “The message is: you figure out which style works for you.”

Kondo insists that following his technique is cultivating sensitivity to one’s wants and needs in a way that will bring greater rewards than mere command. (That’s the “life changing” part.) The experience is personal and subdermal—objects best communicate their values ​​when they’re physically handled—with benefits like jobs and windfall financial gains sometimes unpredictably arising after the tidying up. Is made. (That’s the “magic” part.)

However, with “Kurashi”, we now enter a more conventional therapeutic realm, in which Kondo sounds like a coach from time to time. If you couldn’t understand the method, she would like to know what is blocking you. Or rather, she would like you to ask yourself that question.

Writing about balancing home and work, she launches a barrage of questions, starting with: “How much time do you spend each day on each work-related task? How much work do you do in a week?” Sample worksheets help readers map out their activities and goals for the day so they can cut through inefficient practices as ruthlessly as they cut their useless kitchenware.

And just as she asks us to dump the contents of our messy wardrobes in one place before sorting them out, she advises dumping our chaotic, troubled thoughts into notebooks as an illuminating preliminary to a more orderly life.

“When you try to organize things in your mind and take time to reflect, there’s much of the same tidying method you apply at home,” she said.

A major obstruction to tidying, she notes, is the gap between the way many of us live and our ideal lifestyles. Rather than letting this disparity discourage us, she recommends we hold on to our dreams and do all the little things we can to make them come true — like putting a picture of a beautiful landscape on a windowless wall where we’d like to have a view.

As always, she alternates advice with personal commentary. Her own ideal lifestyle involves daily yoga, herbal tea breaks, time with her three young children and the opportunity, when she can take it, to mop floors on her knees. This activity not only releases tension and improves posture, it also brings good vibes, she writes. “The floor is the foundation of the house. Cleaning it with my bare hands helps me feel my connection with it.”

Having discovered fermentation in the pandemic, she includes a recipe for making eight pounds of homemade miso in a process that takes six months. Also on offer: her mother’s black vinegar chicken wing stew recipe.

“It’s something she started doing and it brings her joy,” Bennett said of miso. “As an individual, you need to think about what’s important in your life — what recipes will make you happy, maybe something that’s been passed down from your family.”

Kondo’s anecdotes can be unintentionally touching. In a section on getting rid of unnecessary cleaning products, she reports that, as a college student who lived at home, “I couldn’t suppress my compulsion to be tidy. Not content with tidying my own room, I cleaned as a way of distracting myself from other people’s rooms. I used bleach to clean the drain in the kitchen sink, scrubbed the dirt out of the kitchen fan, cleaned the windowsills, and had the pleasure of removing dust that no one had noticed, using different types of cleaners to deal with every kind of dirt”. (But plain water is usually all you need.)

Not everyone, however, is buying this wave (or the kurashi).

Ramani Durvasula, a clinical psychologist in Southern California with a strong following, said he doesn’t dispute Kondo’s idea that an organized space can yield greater emotional and creative benefits. “But you have to remember that not all of us are the same,” she said. Perfectionists intent on organizing their rooms “more or less” – or people who don’t have the time, resources or energy to comply with the rigors of minimalism – run the risk of feeling anxious or embarrassed about not achieving their ideal lifestyles.

“Holding something up and asking, ‘Does this give me joy?’ it’s complicated,” said Durvasula. For people who may have difficult family relationships or are dealing with loss, the exercise “isn’t just about joy; it’s about identity, it’s about history, it’s about unresolved trauma. This shirt isn’t just joy; it can be about a whole world of pain “.

Durvasula said she also believes in rationalization, but of a different nature. “If all my clients lived in junk-filled houses but eliminated toxic people from their lives, I would approve,” she said. “Put away the old suitcases; get rid of the grouchy uncle.”

Translated by Luiz Roberto M. Gonçalves

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