When Marie Kondo is decluttering, she doesn’t focus on the things she wants to throw away, instead she looks at what she wants to keep. And when she isn’t quite sure, she takes the item in her hand and asks, “Does this spark joy?”
The author of the best selling book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up is literally talking about material possessions here, but the entire process is 100 per cent a metaphor for life.
I asked for Marie’s book for Christmas, but when a MindBodyGreen article entitled “The #1 Rule I Live By When I Declutter: Marie Kondo Explains” appeared in my feed, I had to check it out. Decluttering has been on my mind lately and I’ve already started boxing things up to give away, donate or discard. It’s an overwhelming process to go through your life like that. But as I read the article, I realized this whole act of decluttering is a giant billboard above the intersection in our lives where the things we want to change cross paths with what we already have.
Marie Kondo talks about how no matter how much she got rid of, she still felt unhappy. She felt like it was never enough. She writes:
“If I had been a little smarter, I would have realized before I became so neurotic that focusing solely on throwing things away can only bring unhappiness. Why? Because we should be choosing what we want to keep, not what we want to get rid of.
“When I woke up, I knew immediately what that voice in my head had meant. Look more closely at what is there. I had been so focused on what to discard, on attacking the unwanted obstacles around me, that I had forgotten to cherish the things that I loved, the things I wanted to keep.“
I’m reading this and yes of course I’m thinking about my apartment and all the changes I want to make, but I’m also thinking about other aspects in my life. I’m thinking about my health goals and the relationship I have with my body. I’m thinking about this whole notion of desiring less of something. I’m thinking about the toxic situations and people I’m trying to avoid. I’m thinking about the freelance opportunities I haven’t yet given an answer to and other decisions I haven’t made for one reason or another, and I’m asking myself if these things I’ve been holding on to spark joy in my life.
I’ve been so focused on making changes, on getting rid of things, that I do not know the last time I really took a moment to appreciate what I have and, more importantly, what I love. When was the last time I focused simply on whether something, or someone, brought me joy? Have I slowed down enough to appreciate and show gratitude for the people and things in my life that already bring me joy?
Maybe if I paid more attention to joy, maybe if we all did, we could find a little more happiness in the way things are in the present moment–no matter how tidy, or messy, they are.
Feature photo by Annie Spratt via UnSplash