Does It Spark Joy?

It’s been a big deal for a few years now, but I just read Marie Kondo’s book, “The Life Changing Magic Of Tidying Up.”

The basic idea is that home should be a place where we find rest, not a place to be bombarded with clutter. Most people have too much stuff.

When we try to organize, it’s difficult to find space for it all.

We confuse things with happiness. We hang on to things tied to the past and don’t get rid of other things because we’re worried about the future.

Our cars, offices and homes don’t become cluttered on their own. They are cluttered by the person who lives there. A messy space is a product of a messy mind. Things aren’t clear, vivid and joyful.

One question that helps sorting, decluttering and eventual nice living spaces is the question, “does this spark joy?” Many clothes and shoes in our closet, many half-read books and old papers, and most childhood memorabilia just don’t produce joy. We keep it out of fear, obligation or habit.

When you take each item out of the closet, hold it in your hand and ask yourself, “does this item bring joy to my life?” By doing this, we can get a clear measuring stick regarding what to keep and what to discard.

It reminds me of a concept I once heard about in the book Essentialism. In the book, the author said that people typically ask the wrong question. Instead of asking, “will I ever use this item again?” he said we should ask, “would I buy this item today if I didn’t have it?”

Does this bring you joy?

I probably have too many books. I can look at the shelves and boxes and realize I don’t get joy out of the burden of so many (heavy) books. But various books bring joy. Marie Kondo would say there’s a good chance you’ll never finish half-read books, you may as well pass them along. There’s also a good chance there are books that you’ve purchased, but the season for needing to read it has passed. Only hang onto the books that bring you joy. It should be a small number.

In one story, a woman discarded all but 30 books and in the process realized the topic of the 30 books were all similar but completely different than the career path she was on. Because of her efforts in tidying up, she realized (again) her passion and began working toward it.

I guess that’s part of the life-changing power of tidying up space around you.

Do you feel like your home (or office or car) is tidy enough? Does the yardstick of “does it bring me joy?” sound doable for decluttering?

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