Declutter Your Mind. Simplify your Life: This is Mindfulness, Japanese-style

​Yoshito Hori, president of GLOBIS University, managing partner of GLOBIS Capital Partners, shares his views from an entrepreneur's perspective.​

Marie Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing has sold over two million copies and become a global phenomenon.

Kondo’s trademarked “Kon-Mari Method” involves simplifying your lived-in environment by discarding anything that fails to “spark joy.”

This approach can work equally well when it comes to decluttering the spaces of your mind.

Our minds are like untidy, cluttered rooms. From time to time we all need to take a good, hard look inside our own heads and ask ourselves “What do I need to keep?” and “What should I get rid of?”

Tidying up your mind will refresh and energize you, just as tidying up your room does—but on a deeper level.

Wang Yangming, a Chinese philosopher who was very popular in Japan in the late 19th century, has some ideas on mental decluttering that I think are relevant here.

One of Wang’s best-known doctrines is that of the “unity of knowing and acting.”

This doctrine posits that a person’s mind, motivations and actions should all be consistent.

Wang argues that the mind naturally knows what is right and what is wrong. It follows that a person who knows their own mind will naturally perform right actions.

The trouble is that most of our heads are so crammed with rubbish that we have trouble knowing our own true minds and, as a result, trouble doing the right thing.

 I believe that the two biggest sources of mental clutter are GREED and CONVENTIONAL THINKING. Effective mental tidying up starts with getting rid of these two things.


People who are greedy for wealth, think only of how to get money. People who are greedy for fame will do whatever it takes to get famous. People who are greedy for power, will lie, cheat and steal to attain the power and influence they desire. In every case, these people have fallen out of touch with their mind’s intuitive knowledge of what is right and wrong. As a result, their knowledge and their actions are not consistent anymore.


Social norms, precisely because they are widely and unquestioningly held, tend to crowd out the innate knowledge of our minds. In Japan, for example, children are told that they have to sacrifice games and play to study so they can get into a “good” university and go on to get a job with a “good” company afterward. Like greed, these sort of norms also interfere with us knowing our true minds.

Getting rid of greed and conventional thinking will help you attain emptiness of mind. Only when your mind is empty can your true mind emerge. When you know your true mind, your motivations and actions will start to fall in line with it. You will have achieved Wang’s goal of consistency between knowing and acting. These days we call such a state “mindfulness.”

Marie Kondo wants us to magically change our lives by getting rid of anything that fails to “spark joy.”

I urge you to achieve mindfulness by doing the same thing at the mental level.

Tidying up the spaces of the mind has its own life-changing magic.

Go on, declutter your mind and simplify your life.


Mr. Yoshito Hori established GLOBIS Management School in 1992 and GLOBIS Capital Partners in 1996. In 2003, GLOBIS started its original MBA program which, in 2006, received accreditation from the Japanese Ministry of Education and gained “university” status. GLOBIS started a part-time MBA program in English in 2009 and a full-time MBA program in English in 2012.

A Harvard MBA graduate and former Sumitomo Corporation employee, Mr. Hori founded the Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) Japan Chapter in 1995 and became the first board member from Asia in charge of Asia Pacific region in 1996. He also served on the World Economic Forum (WEF)’s New Asian Leaders Executive Committee and Global Agenda Council on New Models of Leadership, as well as the Harvard Business School Alumni Board from 2005 to 2008. Currently, Mr. Hori is a board member of the Keizai Doyukai (Japan Association of Corporate Executives), and serves as co-chair of WEF’s Global Growth Companies.

In 2008, he launched the G1 Summit – a Japanese version of the WEF’s annual Davos forum. This led to the foundation of G1 Summit Institute in 2013, which Mr. Hori serves as Representative Director.

Just days after a huge earthquake struck northeast Japan in March 2011, Mr. Hori launched Project KIBOW to support the rebuilding of the disaster-affected areas. The following year Project KIBOW was incorporated as the KIBOW Foundation, which Mr. Hori serves as Representative Director.

An avid enthusiast of the Japanese game Go since age 40, Mr. Hori has been Director of the Nihon Ki-in (Japan Go Association) since June 2013.

Since October 2013, Mr. Hori has hosted a weekly TV program in Japan called Nippon Mirai Kaigi (Japan Future Conference). He has authored several books including Visionary Leaders who Create and Innovate Societies, Six Dimensions of Life, and My Personal Mission Statement.

Mr. Hori received his BS in Engineering from Kyoto University and his MBA from Harvard Business School.

He is an avid swimmer and enjoys spending time with his family, especially his five sons.

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