Can You “KonMari” Happiness?

February 25, 2019

Photo by Ryan Christodoulou on Unsplash

Marie Kondo is having a moment. With two books on organization (or “tidying”), The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and Spark Joy, under her belt, and a Netflix Original series, Tidying Up With Marie Kondo, she seems to be everywhere right now. She even attended the 2019 Oscars

I’ve read Kondo's books and gleaned some helpful ideas, and I was charmed by her respectful gentleness in the Netflix series. If you've managed not to hear about Kondo’s way of organizing, called the “KonMari Method,” one of its hallmarks is that as you work through each category of clutter, you hold every individual item to see if it “sparks joy” in you. If it does, it stays. If not, it goes—but not before you take a moment to thank it for its service.

I like the thoughtfulness of her approach, as well as its emphasis on joy. It's freed me to release items I’ve kept “just in case,” as well as to hang on to things which bring me joy for no apparent reason, all without guilt. Sometimes I need to probe a little deeper. Maybe my cell phone charger doesn’t in and of itself spark joy, for example, but I need it to keep my cell phone working. My cell phone brings me joy by helping me stay in touch with people I care about, taking pictures, and all its various useful tasks.

I began to wonder, could we adapt KonMari to other areas of life. For instance, in order to be happier, which areas of our lives should we “tidy up”?

Here's what I came up with:

Relationships. Which people in our lives spark joy? Are we making time to be with those people? Do we have any relationships that drag us down rather than spark joy? Can we spend less time with the people who drain us, or avoid them altogether? We need to look for ways to cherish and deepen our most precious relationships, because they are the single most important component of a happy life.

Attitudes and expectations. Our attitudes and expectations have a huge influence on how happy we are. Replacing negative thoughts and expectations with positive ones will, well, spark joy! Instead of feeling overwhelmed, we can be happy and grateful that we have full lives, for example. It may sound a bit falsely cheerful, but it’s true that how we think determines so much of our happiness.

Home environment. The most obvious category, of course, but one that does make a difference to our happiness. We can manipulate our physical environment to make our lives happier. We may not want or need to do a full KonMari organization, but there may be an area of our home that doesn’t feel joyful. Recently I’ve been working on my home office, which used to be a comfortable haven where I could get creative, but has recently become where stacks of paper and books go to die. 

Just as the point of organizing is not just to have a neater home, the point of “tidying up” our attitudes and relationships is to open us to a better quality of life, where what we have, and what we think spark joy.

Guess I’d better get back to my office…

What sparks joy for you?

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  1. Her 1st book had a big impact on my life, it actually sparked me to release a lot of stuff and the tidy idea has added to my serenity...My home sparks joy, when it is free of chaos...My art materials spark joy, but it was wonderful to release those that weren't being used in my current life. I have a lot more things to release, but I also know I can't do it all at once. Interesting that we live in a culture of extreme over-abundance and consumerism, that we now have gurus to help us manage it. While there is great scarcity in other parts of the world...

    1. Rita--Some truths in this comment, for sure. How can we have so much while some people have so little?

      I think Kondo's "spark joy" concept is brilliant. It also helps me not bring in more stuff in the first place.