It’s been almost a year since I first found the magic that happens when you tidy up your things. Marie Kondo’s “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” is a book that outlines the process of examining your belongings and keeping only the things that spark joy. During this process, most people find that many, many things must be discarded.
This book and Kondo’s methods resonated so deeply in me and I was fully committed to the goal of tidying up. My family jumped on board and we decluttered our clothes, toys, books, and everything in between. We decluttered so much that we no longer needed our big house and sold it in favor of a more simple life.
We’ve been living a pared down life with fewer things and loving all of the intangible benefits that less stuff brings. More family time, more happy moments, more room for joy in our hearts. It wasn’t until I started readying Kondo’s new book “Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up” that I realized I have a made a huge mistake on my tidying journey.
When I embarked on my tidying journey, the big picture message I heard was that I needed less stuff. After reading just a few pages of “Spark Joy,” I realized I was focused on the wrong goal. I don’t need less stuff in my life; I need more stuff in my life that brings me joy.
Once I began my tidying festival, discarding items became fun. It was almost like a contest to see how much stuff I could get rid of. As bags and piles and boxes and truckloads left my house, I felt like I was winning. But in “Spark Joy,” Kondo says this attitude is not something to be admired, but instead it is a warning bell.
“Just because it feels good is no reason to become a discarding machine. The act of discarding things on its own will never bring joy to your life.” ~Marie Kondo
Discarding things is not the point of tidying up. The point is to surround yourself with things you love and bring joy to your life. This was a big realization for me.
Every tidying festival should begin with a vision in mind. In “Spark Joy” Kondo invites you to “Imagine your perfect lifestyle through a single photograph” with instructions to find this photograph thoroughly and quickly, all in one go.
I gathered up some home design magazines and invited some friends over to look for inspiration with me. I knew finding a single photograph that embodied the style, colors and feeling that I want in my home would be a challenge, but Kondo acknowledges this and says that the photograph is not an objective set in stone nor an obligation. It is inspiration to help you identify your ideal lifestyle. It’s a picture that makes you say, “Yes, this is the kind of space I want to live in.”
I poured through pages and pages of magazines until I found it. My ideal lifestyle was there on a page of Martha Stewart Living waiting for me to find it all along. My inspiration didn’t turn out to be a picture of the inside of home, but an inviting front stoop instead. The mix of neutral colors with natural shades of greens and different textures spoke to me.
My ideal lifestyle is one where we can welcome people into our home and create a calm, serene environment with soft colors and a mix of elements with a focus on nature. I looked around my apartment and realized I already have a lot of these elements and this style is definitely what makes me smile and feel at peace in my home.
We’re about a month away from closing on our new house and while we’re making design decisions and shopping for new things needed for our home, this inspiration photo is going to stay at the forefront of my mind. It will be one of the guiding principles for everything that finds a home within the walls of our new house.
Instead of looking for things to discard and searching for joy in having less, I’m committed to loving the things I have chosen to keep and surrounding myself with these things to create a joyful and more abundant life for my family.