What I Learned Applying Marie Kondo's Life Changing Magic to My Life
When Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, came out in 2014, I read two or three chapters and put it aside. It wasn’t for me.
Marie Kondo’s book was on the New York Times bestseller list for almost two years, and millions of people love her life-transforming decluttering and organizing method.
She advises us to sort all our possessions by category, starting with clothes, and keep only those that inspire or spark joy. For me, the thought of taking all the stuff in my house that I share with my husband and asking if the item sparked joy was impossible.
I. Could. Not. Do. This.
First, half the stuff belongs to my husband. We had melded together two fully-furnished households. Asking him to get rid of books or clothes that didn’t spark joy would be a deal-breaker. Even the good guy that he is would not agree to this.
Second, I have a complicated relationship with material possessions. My parents arrived in Canada after the second world war with zero possessions. They had nothing to start out— except the kindness of strangers.
Let’s just say I am attached to my stuff, and it brings me joy.
But something about Marie’s philosophy struck a chord. She writes about how the process of decluttering and reorganizing her house brought her extreme joy. She talks about how it had a detoxifying effect on her body.
I set on the path to see how I could achieve such a state — by applying her philosophy, not to my possessions, but to my entire life — and seven years later, I am ready to report.
My hope is my journey to Marie Kondo-ing my life will inspire you to think about how you can find more purpose and joy in yours. My method has no categories or particular order to follow. You examine whatever aspects of your life you choose and keep only those parts that bring you joy.
Once I started the process of only doing and keeping what sparked joy in my life, I was hooked. I viewed every aspect of my life through this new prism. Is my life perfect? No, but it is a hell of a lot more joyful.
First, I looked at how I gained my living and paid the bills. This was an easy one for me. I say this because I once had a corporate job in a bank. I lasted for about three years. I hated it. But this job taught me a valuable lesson, and this part of my life has since brought me joy. I have worked at exactly what I wanted to do for the last three decades and loved it.
While I worked much harder as an entrepreneur, I woke up each morning and looked forward to the day and the challenge. I couldn’t wait to get started. Do something you love and maybe, as they say, ‘the money will follow.’ The joy definitely will.
Next, I applied the “does this spark joy” question to my decision-making about what I take on or agree to do — only doing what I want. “Only what I want” are the operative words.
I want to feel creative and productive but less stressed. I want to feel like I am making a difference in the lives of others — my family, friends, and people in the larger community.
Now I only do those things that contribute to how I want to feel. Of course, I sometimes choose to do something to please someone else, but it brings me happiness.
My decisions are no longer directed by what is expected of me. If something doesn’t contribute to sparking joy in my life, I say ‘no’ without regret.
Finally, I looked at the people around me. When I started Marie Kondo-ing my life, I had to decide who to break up with and who to keep in my life and consciously nurture those friendships. Now when I look around, I see good friends and a strong support network, and it brings me joy. My friends are thoughtful, kind, and generous individuals who volunteer their time to help others. They make me laugh, and I could call most of them at 3 a.m. if I needed solace or help.
Friends have incredible power to inspire us and provide joy. As we emerge from the wilds of pandemic social isolation and reunite with friends from different parts of our lives, it is the perfect time to ask who we want in our lives.
Regrets? Of course, I have some. I regret that it took me a long time to figure this out. But I am here. I live with a little more purpose and joy. Maybe I’ll score a guest appearance on Marie’s new TV show.
Anyone can Marie Kondo their life and change it forever. Don’t be afraid of letting go of any part of your life that does not bring you joy. When you tidy up your life the way Marie tidies the homes of her clients — deliberately discarding what does not spark joy — you’ll experience a profound change.
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