Marie Kondo built an empire on the idea that people should keep only those things that spark joy in their lives. The author of home organization guides The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Spark Joy! and The Life-Changing Manga of Tidying Up is a professional tidier, as well as a professional discarder. Following her famous KonMari method, if she doesn’t love an object in her home, she thanks the item for the role it has played in her life and sends it out the door to be donated, recycled or tossed. Even fancy, expensive gifts and handmade art by her children are not immune.
But some things, whether or not they seem valuable or important to others, are worth keeping simply because they “spark joy,” Kondo says. Here are the things she holds onto.
Most joyful objects at home: It’s quite difficult because my house is just full of things that spark joy for me. The very first studying desk I bought — I really like the feel of it; a measuring tape I use for tidying; my drawer full of empty boxes — I like to think about how they feel and how they can be useful in tidying; a Japanese wood essential oil, Kuromoji, I use before I sleep to make me really calm; and a musical tuner — when it rings, it purifies the air and calms my mind.
Most joyful pick-me-up: I really like natural scents, so I use lavender and spray it into rooms. It calms me down. Sometimes I use mint and spray it to help me with my concentration if I’m at a job and start to get tired.
Most joyful pet: I actually used to have a pond loach. People say it’s very strange, but I like the way they’re very slimy and wriggly. They’re very cute.
Most joyful office tool: I used small Delfonics pencils for a long time when I was in high school. It’s a mechanical pencil, with a white outside and black lead.
Most joyful accessory: I pick things that are more handcrafted, maybe using natural gems and stones. Rather than going to stores, it’s more about whether I happen to chance upon them. I love this hairclip brand called Acca. They have elegant designs, some more decorative and some more simple. They’re really easy to use and fit well in my hair. I take to heart the idea that I need to touch things to see if they spark joy for me.
This interview, spoken in Japanese and translated into English by an interpreter, has been edited and condensed for clarity.