Current trends have a new standard to determine what has a place in our life. “Does it spark joy?” Even people who are unfamiliar with Marie Kondo and the Konmari method have caught onto the concept. Do we feel that zing when we hold something we haven’t seen in a while? If not, we can let it go to a new home.
I love Marie Kondo! How can you not? She’s adorable, genuine, and has designed a successful method which helps many people get free of clutter and figure out how their homes can become truer reflections of the life they want.
Her methods are certainly not for everyone. As I watched the recent Netflix series, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, I wondered whether some of the homeowners realized what they signed up for. Respecting that everyone is different, the relationship each of us has with our stuff requires a different process for each person.
Have you ever gotten fed up with the mess in a closet or junk drawer and started throwing out (or donating) things you’ve held onto for years? Did your desire for space and simplicity overtake your normal thought processes which usually made you stop to ponder whether you might ever need those hula skirts again? (I mean, wouldn’t it be fun to have a luau this summer?) Rather than living in the past or basing decisions on the limitless possibilities of the future, there are two guideposts that can help you declutter and organize your home.
Embracing the Present
Now, I’m a huge advocate for saving and honoring what’s important. But should you save (and store) everything that has a memory attached to it?
Living in the present means you want the things around you to reflect the life you are living today. That means getting rid of things from your past which served you for a season but now just takes up space. Do some of those things connect you to wonderful memories? Of course. Then how do you say goodbye to things that are part of your personal story?
One solution is to take photos of those items before parting with them. You could make a little photo book and even write out memories or stories associated with them. Think of it—your great aunt’s dresser is just an old dresser to others unless you share the story attached to it.
Another tactic involves being selective and save only your favorite pieces of a collection so as to highlight your memories while also limiting physical footprint in your home. Consider the life you want to live today and ask yourself whether storing Grandma’s dining room set in your basement is really part of that. What about saving one or two chairs as an accent in your home and passing on the rest of the set to someone who can use it?
You also don’t want to keep everything that falls into the “just in case” category:
- things you used at one time…and might need again;
- things you purchased because they were on sale or were a really great idea…but you still haven’t used them;
- clothes, books, kitchen items, etc. that your sister gave you which you tucked away and forgot about.
Acknowledge that you probably had good intentions for keeping them. But if these items are now only taking up valuable space, they become a burden rather than a blessing. Take a deep breath and let them go to a new home.
You spent good money on them? Yes, that’s true, but the money is gone, and making room for things you are currently using is actually of greater value to you now.
Surrounding Ourselves with Things we Love
The second guidepost for getting your home organized is to only have things around you that you truly enjoy, love, and value. This is where Marie Kondo’s brilliance comes in. She has given us a standard: “Does it spark joy?” If it does, if the thing we are holding makes us feel that little zing inside, we truly enjoy it. If everything around you “sparks joy,” then your home is filled with what you love and value. And you can be free of everything else. Other well-known personalities such as Peter Walsh, Julie Morgenstern, and The Minimalists have proposed their own rendition of this same concept. I think the very simple measurement of joy is easy to relate to and very appealing–who doesn’t want more joy in their lives? But no matter how you dress it up, the idea is simply to clear out the things that are not serving you in your present life.
As you look around a room, put on a fresh set of eyes and ask yourself if each item reflects who you are today. If you have pictures or memorabilia displayed, do they still bring you joy and connect you to important memories? Do the clothes in your closet fit, look good and make you feel great wearing them?
You don’t have to follow the Konmari method of gathering everything into one place—you can start small—one drawer, shelf, or counter at a time. Make decisions based on these two principles:
- whether these things are actually serving you, and
- if you really love, value and use them.