How Simplicity and Mindful Living Can Spark Joy

white surfboard beside white wall white wooden cube bookshelf inside the room

Recently, I watched the Netflix series, “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo” and I also purchased her book, “Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up.” This book is the companion to Marie’s #1 New York Times best-selling, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.”

The substance and design of her best-selling book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” appealed to me more than the companion book. Nevertheless, I still value the concepts presented by Marie Kondo, and I will spend time reading everything she espouses. Each chapter is filled with clarity and mindfulness. For instance, tidying experts advise keeping some items in a “grey zone.” This grey zone signifies that you have a degree of uncertainty on the value of the item. Keep it there for 3 months. If after that time, you have no use for it, you may discard it.

Marie tried this method but had little success. The guilt of getting rids of items just because they didn’t make her happy in the allotted time frame, was something she wanted to change. “There are only two choices: keep it or chuck it. And if you’re going to keep it, make sure you take care of it,” responds Kondo.

I believe it’s logical to place things in a “grey zone” (Ms. Kondo refers to this grey zone as a “detention” zone). I never put sentimental items in a grey zone- only things that have utility. I use 3 clear plastic boxes that store under my bed or can fit on top of my closet shelf (and I often shuffle where I place the plastic boxes, depending on if I have been recently sorting the contents).

Items of Sentimental Value (Children’s Things)

  • Box 1- (Flat mementos) school projects and artwork, report cards, and award certificates.
  • Box 2- (Flat, oversized artwork) Flat artwork that is larger than 8.5” x 11” (usually 11” x 17”).
  • Box 3- (Dimensional) Bulky, odd-shaped and dimensional mementos. In this box, I have an odd assortment of hand-made pasta bracelets, origami sculptures, magnets adorned with sequins, and a few baby teeth. I also have newspaper clippings in this box because they don’t go in Box 1.

I struggled with getting rid of some of my children’s projects, especially ones that won awards at the fair. My son was very proud of his 8th-grade lamp project, so that made the cut. My daughter made some figures out of coffee cans that a folk-art vibe. I had painted some of the cans to get her started. The ones I made were discarded because hers hold more value. Mine was simply used to guide her. She was proud of her final creations. I was disappointed in how weird my coffee can sculpture looked! It was not my project anyway, so they lacked value.

When I organize mindfully, there is less guilt.

Although my methods are somewhat different from Marie Kondo’s, I find dignity and clarity in how she organizes.

By contrast,  I have often purged things as a means to an end- that end being an end to my anxiety. Decluttering or purging out of compulsion or anxiety never leaves me refreshed. I enjoy discovering the mindful and meditative ways in which others handle material things.

“The challenge is coming to grips with the fact that, often times, material things have an emotional connection and attachment.”http://www.thrive-mindful.blog

Be healthy. Train yourself how to handle emotional attachments. Detach from unhealthy “things”. Not all outwardly-beautiful things have a need in our homes or lives. Sometimes they are just taking away mental energy that could be used for utilitarian purposes. And other times, they are benign and serve only to be admired by the world.

Assorted wall decor with an organic theme.
Decorative items, although not particularly useful, serve to define the style and set the tone for the things valued by an individual.

What is YOUR personal style? Do you crave utility and function, with a little bit of glamour? Or do you see your living space as something to be used to impress others? Maybe right now, your desires have little control over how your home appears. Whatever style you embrace, whatever you determine sparks joy, just be thoughtful. Give careful thought to the value and placement of the things in your home AND your life.

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