Dr. Jennifer Chain is the President and Owner of Thrive for the People.
Marie Kondo has taken the world by storm with her book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing and the Netflix series Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. I know there has been so many controversies about her method. I highly recommend this article in the Huffington Post that dispels some of the misconceptions about the KonMari method and reveals the hidden xenophobia and racism within criticisms of Kondo. That topic can be a blog post in and of itself. What I want to focus on in this blog post is Kondo's philosophy of "spark joy." When deciding whether to keep or let go of an item, Kondo recommends holding the item in your hands and listening to how you body responds to the item. Does every cell of your body feel like they are uplifted by holding this item or do they feel heavy and weighed down by it? I've included a video of her explaining this process below. I think this philosophy can be widely applied to letting go of possessions, relationships, jobs, roles, goals, emotions, attitudes, and everything in our lives that no longer serve us.
Can you image a life where you no longer live in the shadows of obligation, opinions of others, mindless busyness, fear of rejection, fear of failure, anxieties about the future, or regrets about the past? Too idealistic? Maybe not. I believe that living an intentional life where we are guided by what sparks joy is within our grasp. I want to distinguish between what sparks joy and and what is an instant gratification or indulgence. The two feelings, joy and instant gratification, may feel similar in the moment but you can notice the difference as soon as the moment passes. What sparks joy will leave you with a lingering feeling of contentment, happiness, fulfillment, gratitude, and/or well-being. What is an instant gratification or indulgence will leave you with a feeling of regret, guilt, shame, sadness, emptiness, and/or longing for more. I believe there is room for both what sparks joy and instant gratification in the right proportions for each of us.
I have been practicing this philosophy of spark joy in my life recently and it has helped me to decide how I would like to spend my limited resources (time, energy, attention, money, etc) in ways that better match my values. For example, when I had to decide whether I wanted to spend time with friends or some quiet time by myself, I held the two options in my mind and noticed how my body responded to the options. When I felt uplifted by the idea of spending time alone more than spending time with friends, I said "no" to my friends. In the past, I would have agonized over the choice because I couldn't chose between what I wanted and what my friends wanted of me. I struggled with the idea of displeasing others and letting people down. Now, I feel more at peace with my choice. I know that I have limited amount of energy to give and my choice ultimately makes me a more authentic friend. Plus, I can show up more fully for my friends when I am recharged and present than if I am depleted and bitter that I made the choice that did not spark joy. Choosing what sparks joy may be the more challenging yet more rewarding path. As Kondo said, the more you do it, the better you will get at identifying what sparks joy.
What do you think about applying this philosophy to your life? Share with me in the comment section below.
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