Wednesday, January 6, 2016

"Sparking Joy"

Inspired by reading about Japanese tidying guru Marie Kondo, I embarked today upon a modified version of her KonMari method. I say "modified," because I have not bought the book, and I don't at the moment have the time to do what she really does. I am simply taking some little--okay, tiny--steps.

Kondo's central theme of "tidying up" is that everything around you should "spark joy." From pieces of clothing to books to kitchen utensils, each item in your home should give you a good feeling when you touch it. If it doesn't, Kondo instructs you to "thank it for its service" and send it on its way.

The whole idea seems pretty extreme on a number of fronts. It's hard to imagine a shoe rack or a can opener "sparking joy." And the process of going through literally every object you own to assess its "sparking joy" ability is a daunting one. But the joy thing kind of fascinates me, so before I know it, I have emptied virtually every clothing drawer in my bedroom, and am going through, piece by piece, to assess the "joy factor." Within about an hour, I have filled two and a half bags--clothes whose colors are faded or just bring me down. Pieces that I can practically feel riding up my torso without even putting them on. Pieces that are too big or too small or too reminiscent of times I would rather not remember. And items that spark, well, nothing at all. What goes back in the drawers is still probably more than it should be, and definitely not folded the KonMari way (that is another lesson for another day). But my hour or two of "joy sparking"'exploration is a real eye opener. Clearly, I (and probably most of us) surround myself with all sorts of things, acquired out of real or perceived necessity and kept because, well, "why not?" How often do we really look at how our things affect our lives? We are so busy looking for joy in what we do, we rarely even consider that we start from a place filled with necessity rather than joy.

Clearly, the KonMari process will be a long one for me, and one not nearly as focused as it's supposed to be. But just an hour today was a start. If we can assess the items that surround us, we can be that much closer to the feeling of joy that we would like to surround us. Beginning with each and every thing we touch.

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