If you missed all the millions of memos about Marie Kondō allow me…she’s the Japanese decluttering guru, pop culture phenomenon and media darling who rose to fame with her book about how to simplify your life by tidying and organizing. Her technique is a no-brainer: hold up an article in question and ask yourself if it sparks joy. If it doesn’t, get it out of your life.
You should know pretty quickly if something makes you happy. There’s a little zing in your heart when you look at it, touch it, or think about it. If you have to think too hard it probably doesn’t. You can’t force joy. You either feel it or you don’t. You can’t make yourself like bananas. Even if you want to like bananas. Oh and also, if you have to ask yourself if you’re hungry, you’re probably not.
Last Christmas Adam bought a copy of Ms. Kondō’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up for me to give to him because, well, he’s a self admitted clutter-maker and it drives me nuts. Especially when the clutter oversteps on my “areas” as we call them, or my line of vision.
After reading the book I watched Adam hold up T-Shirts and sweaters and make decisions: discard or sort. He rolled and folded the sort pile according to the “KonMari Method” until the inner life of his bureau was PH balanced — all items visible and easily accessible. Good for Adam. Good for Me! Good for Marie!
Now Marie Kondō has a Netflix series and lots of online and offline ads. She’s invaded our psyche (at least mine) and memes. Time has included her in their list of 100 most influential people. Basically she’s everywhere and all the time and I don’t know about you but she (and her adorable and ubiquitous marketing campaign) is starting to get on my nerves.
That said, I’ve been noticing how I’ve been unconsciously applying her lose or keep phenomenon to what I consider more significant aspects of my life.
My Living Space: look what my well meaning but disruptive cat Nimbus, did to this recliner. I used to love this chair but sadly, it does not spark joy any longer. I believe I’m actually ready to let it go. Bad Nimbus!
On the other hand ... this Buddha? So much joy! Even though my daughter Layla lectures that it’s disrespectful to Buddhism when we use Buddhas in home decor. I hear her but every time I walk into my house it reminds me to go placidly amid the noise and haste. I love this Buddha and the 10 other Buddhas placed strategically around my home. Sheer Joy.
Career: does the song I wrote yesterday make me smile when I recall it in the morning? Is it the first thing I think about when I open my eyes? If it’s not don’t waste any more time trying to polish a turd.
Consumable Music: do I keep the Cardi B. album in my queue just because Spotify recommended it, and because it sparked joy for millions of others and because she won a GRAMMY the other night? No! I think the girl is a hoot. I just don’t relate to her songs.
Taste: I lost my joy for this gum ten minutes ago. But maybe if I keep chewing it, the joy will return. 😳
Company: do I lunch with anyone who asks me to because I feel obligated and flattered or rather because I find them interesting and their point of view stimulating — even if I disagree? The latter, of course.
IMO the key to separating the discards from the sorts is to be honest with ourselves about what makes us happy even when we’re in the minority…to be able to disregard the psychology of why it does or doesn’t and to refuse to defend our pleasure or repellence without guilt. It is what it is. Accept it. Life is short. There’s no room for mediocrity…if we can help it.
So as much as MK is getting on my nerves I have to thank her. Her principle is upping my joy game. It’s helping me trim the fat faster, cut to the chase sooner, find the precise word when I’m writing, make my daily decisions easier, un-complicate my dance card not just my closet culture!
“…in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace with your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.”
…and surround yourself with people and things that spark joy.
I’m keeping the Buddha.