I know that the title for my first real blog post might seem superficial considering all that is going on in our country and world today, but I promise you, it goes much deeper. If you read on, you will see that a spirit has been changed by “simply” tidying up a living space. (But oh, it’s really so much more than tidying, I promise!).
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Tidying for Joy
About a year ago my husband and I picked up the book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo. I devoured the book in 3 days (which says a lot having a 1 year old toddler running around). The title definitely held true – life changed dramatically after I read the book and started the process of tidying our home.
While Kon Mari (as she is called in the book) gives a detailed process on “tidying” and getting your house in order, the book really has an underlying message:
What brings you joy?
To figure this out, she basically instructs you to go through everything you own (by category in the order she gives you) and keep only what sparks joy. You do this by hugging the item to your heart to see if it brings you joy. The more you do this, the more in tune you become to what actually brings you joy. Anything that doesn’t is discarded – with gratitude, for the purpose it has served in your life for the time that it was there.
Now, before I read the book, I had no idea that I would begin to figure out what brings me joy. I guess I had never really taken the time to sit and think about it, but here I was in the middle of my living room, surrounded by piles and piles of clothes. Who knew that the initial part of my journey to true joy would be covered in t-shirts and underwear?
I hugged shirts, I hugged pants, I hugged skirts and dresses. I got rid of piles and piles of clothes and shoes that I had accumulated over the years. When I hugged my last pair of shoes, I was left with 1/4 of a closet (including my winter coat!) and 2 drawers of clothes (including underwear and socks). I was left with 3 pairs of dress shoes and a pair of hiking boots. When all was said and done, I had gratefully said goodbye to 8 garbage bags of clothing. I felt free. I felt lighter. The next day, when I got up and went to get dressed, something happened. I was excited by what was in my closet! Jeans, a light, flowy blouse and my sparkly gold flats were donned and I felt like a new person. My joy couldn’t be squashed, even as a went on my daily walk through the park with my son in my fancy flats (after realizing I had gotten rid of my only pair of sneakers).
(For the curious: here’s the list of things I let go of.)
As time went on, my joy instinct was confirmed when, on occasion, I would remember a dress or top that I thought I had disposed of and was surprised (but not totally) to see that I had kept it. When my gold flats were disposed of after being worn to the point of no return, I turned to the red kitten heels I had in my closet that I never really wore because I always wear flats. I was amazed at how comfortable they were, and realized that had I not made room for them in my life, I would have wore the old flats that hurt my feet and never really made me that happy. So it seemed that getting rid of the stuff I wasn’t crazy about allowed space for things to emerge that made me truly joyful.
Are there things in your life that are taking up space that could be inhabited by something that brings you joy? Don’t be shy, leave a comment below, we will cheer you on to make room for the things that make you truly happy!