(A recent outfit made up of all items that "spark joy". How often does that happen? I would say I hope that was our last snow, but I've learned my lesson in years past. We'll see!)
The most famous piece of advice from the book is to ask yourself whether an item "sparks joy" when you're holding it in your hand. If it does, great, if not, it must go. At first, I had a bit of a hard time really feeling this, but over the next few weeks, I found myself evaluating everything in my house by this one criteria. For me, it was helpful to think about moving. If I were packing up my house and moving to a smaller space, would this be something I would take with me no matter what or would it end up in the inevitable pre-move yard sale? This made things much more clear: Cy Twombly art book that was the first gift my husband ever gave me? Sparks joy. The Van Gogh art book I bought to fatten up the book stacks on my coffee table? Does not.
Another great piece of advice Kondo gives is not to stockpile. Recently, I've had several clients who were in the habit of doing this. When we cleaned out their closets, I found things like one sweater in seven colors or five blouses bought months ago with tags still on. When questioned on their motives, the answer was, "I liked one, so I bought a bunch." Of course, the bunch never got used. I'm also guilty of this, and it's one of my own habits I've tried the hardest to break. If you come across something at a great price that you think you might use, isn't that frugal to buy it ahead of time? Not when your style, body, or need changes, and the item goes unused. Then the bargain price was wasted money, and the item takes up wasted space.
Lastly, according to Kondo, things have feelings too. This is the facet of the book that most people have a problem with, but this may have been my favorite part. Kondo says that the items you own were made for a purpose and by not using them as intended, you are in some way letting them down. Instead, it's better to let them go to another home where they can be of use. She also advocates thanking your things on a regular basis, either when using them, or when letting them go. I love the idea of thanking something for what it has taught you. It's easy to feel guilt about letting go of things if you feel as though you haven't used them enough or gotten your money's worth. But what if the item's true purpose was to teach you that you should never buy hot pink blouses? If you look at it that way, you can thank the item for imparting its wisdom and wish it well in its next home with someone who loves hot pink.