Spark Joy: How To Use Organisation To Make Your Life Better
I love organising. There is nothing better than sitting down at your desk and sorting out your stationery drawers. Or, doing a big spring clean and clearing out all the kitchen cupboards to then restack them all again. There's such a sense of achievement. You can see it too. The change that you have made. You've taken something disorganised and cluttered, and made it look pretty. But, after 32 (nearly 33) years, I realised I've been doing it all wrong!
The art of tidying
For Christmas my very lovely husband bought me Spark Joy : An Illustrated Guide to the Japanese Art of Tidying by Marie Kondo. As I love organising this book resonated with me straight away. I liked the striking book cover and simple title. This book was going to be a good read.
To begin with I felt a bit smug. A lot of what she was suggesting I already did. I already have a special place for everything in my house. There is a right place for each thing and I know where that place is. Not only that, everything is usually in it's right place. That's right, I'm pretty tidy and my husband and son are ridiculously tidy - we're picking up Kondo points all over the place!
Feeling too smug, too soon!
Marie Kondo goes on to explain that every thing you have in your life should be something that 'sparks joy'. She gives your a very specific way of finding out whether it sparks joy, and only if it sparks joy should it stay in your house. This is when I realised that in our house, I have kept things for the sake of it, and although they have their 'right place', they don't spark joy - so why am I keeping them?
I read on. The book gets into the nitty gritty of how you should store the items that you keep, the ones that do spark joy. Marie Kondo gives detailed descriptions and images showing you each and every aspect of your home and how that area should be organised properly.
This is when I realised I was doing it all wrong. To begin with I felt a bit put out. What's wrong with how I organise my pan cupboard or pants drawer? Who cares if my wardrobe doesn't look like the very pretty illustration in this book. They work. They do what they need to. Surely changing how they're organised isn't going to make a difference. But, I'm always one to give new things a go so decided I would bite the bullet and use the 'spark joy' method to organise my house.
I started with my wardrobe as it seemed the biggest challenge to me. Marie Kondo advises to get every item in a particular 'category' and put it in a heap. This includes any clothes in other rooms in the house, clothes you store for different seasons, your ironing pile - every single garment you own, all in one place. That way you can see exactly how much of that thing (clothes) you have. So that's what I did. It was huge. Our entire bed was covered in the mound of material that I own, most of which I'd forgotten I had.
I then went through each item and tested to see whether it sparked joy. After a very long time, I had a much reduced pile of clothes that made me smile, that I liked, that fit me well. and a huge pile of uglies, sentimental items that I actually didn't want or wear any more, clothes that didn't fit and clothes that were uncomfortable. I bagged these up, ready for the charity shop and got to work organising my wardrobe with my new collection of clothes that sparked joy. I immediately felt better. It was a sort of cleansing experience, but more than that, it made me evaluate my relationship with 'stuff' and realise that you don't have to keep things just because they're there. In life, surely we're all striving for things, experiences, people that bring us joy? And actually, that's ok. It's ok to say 'no' to something that doesn't spark joy.
Does it spark joy?
We spend our lives collecting stuff. Things we buy, gifts, items that seem to appear in our house that just accumulate. We very rarely stop and take stock of it all. We don't ask, do I need that? Does it bring me happiness? Is it useful? Does it spark joy?
After reading Marie Kondo's book, I was hooked. I have reorganised pretty much everything. I find myself using the 'spark joy' method when shopping or acquiring new items, asking myself 'does it spark joy'? If it doesn't, it doesn't get a place in my home. I love that this means that what is in my home sparks joy, it's passed the test and has earned it's place in our lives.
I have since then been applying the same thinking to most decisions I make. Whether it's doing an activity, in my work, going somewhere. Asking myself if it sparks joy has really made me prioritise, and do what makes me happy. Reading this book has helped me declutter my home and now my life. It sounds very overly dramatic to say that it is life changing, but it is. It has totally changed my outlook and perspective on everything. Any decision that I previously would have agonised over, I now simply ask, 'does it spark joy?,
Written by Louise Daniel