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How to 'Spark Joy' Like Marie Kondo

“Does this spark joy?” Whether you’re a fan of the show Tidying Up or have seen it on countless memes, there’s no denying that Marie Kondo’s catchphrase has earned its place in the lexicon.  

So how does Marie Kondo (also known as KonMari) determine if an item or clothes spark joy? How can we tell if an item sparks joy for ourselves? What does “spark joy” even mean?  

Asking yourself if an object sparks joy in you is rule No. 6 in her rules of tidying. Doing this is a practice of weighing your feelings for the item and then coming to a decision. In other words, you need to ask yourself how it makes you feel. It is more of a decision from the heart rather than a calculated decision. This helps us come to a binary decision if we truly want to keep an item or let it go.  

Marie explains: “The key point for distinguishing items which spark joy from those which don't is to feel the item in your hands; take each piece of clothing in your hand and see how your body responds. See if it sparks joy in you.“ 

To Marie, if an item sparks joy, she “feels a little thrill, as if the cells in your body are slowly rising.” 

When an item doesn’t spark joy, “you would feel … [down]. As such every part of your body feels like it weighs down.” 

She also says that practice is important: “It may look odd as you are just watching, but when you actually feel the item, surprisingly the response from the body [will] be different than you imagined and you will [become] more sensitive as you do it.” 

Decluttering and Minimalism 

For those familiar with the KonMari method, recurring themes are removing the clutter from one’s life and living with fewer material possessions. One school of thought holds that, in our materialist society, many people are disorganized and have too many possessions in their living spaces that don’t provide any value. 

But is there science behind the drive to declutter? In fact, clutter may actually be bad for our brain and body, which makes sense as to why minimalist lifestyles are on the rise. 

Joy or No Joy? 

Everyone’s experience of “joy” towards their possessions will be different. Note that joy and happiness are different: joy is an internal feeling whilst happiness is more of an external expression. It is important to practice sensing your feelings for your possessions and also to compare items. If you have 10 shirts, only four may spark joy while the others don’t. Some people may think that everything they own sparks joy, or nothing at all. This is OK, since practice will help you hone your ability to feel if something does spark joy inside of you.  

While asking ourselves if an object sparks joy, we can also ask ourselves a few other questions that seem to embody that question in more detail: 

  • Do I like this? 
  • Does it benefit me?  
  • Does this make me better? 
  • Do I emotionally value this? 
  • If this item was destroyed, would I be relieved or sad? 

These additional questions are important to find out if you have a superficial or a deeper attachment to an item or piece of clothing.  

This style of letting go of things we don’t need is quite powerful and also simple. If you haven’t already, watch an episode of the Emmy-nominated Tidying Up with Marie Kondo to help yourself declutter and tidy up. If you can’t wait, here are a few basic steps that Marie Kondo uses to determine if an item sparked joy at home: 

  1. Hold the item and give it a little hug. 
  2. Experience how you feel about the item.
  3. If you feel positive and uplifted by the item, it sparks joy.  

Wrapping Up: How to Spark Joy Like Marie Kondo 

For the novice declutterer, throwing away your possessions might not be the best option if the items hold emotional or financial value. 

If that sounds like you, consider self-storage as an intermediary step to take while you decide to donate, sell, or simply put that sparkless stuff into the trash. If this seems like your speed, check out our storage finder for a secure, affordable self-storage location near you.  

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