Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Book Review: Spark Joy by Marie Kondo

Spark Joy. What a great title for a book. For anyone who has read her previous book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, you know the reference to which this title refers.

"When something sparks joy, you should feel a little thrill, as if the cells in your body are slowly rising. When you hold something that doesn't bring you joy, however, you will notice that your body feels heavier." ~ Marie Kondo, Spark Joy

With this zen-like approach this tidy expert has created, sparking joy is resonating with people around the globe. Connecting with what really brings you joy and only keeping those things in your home - basically, surrounding yourself with joy. Amazing concept. But, does it really work?

Millions seem to think so. Plenty of people have tried her methods, but it seems that most I have talked to are just diving right in and staying the course with finding what sparks joy. I think that is a phenomenal idea. It's the beginning of creating a culture of connection to yourself, what's around you, and keeping only that which sparks joy within you.

"...through this process represents the driving force that can make not only our lifestyle, but our very lives, shine." ~ Marie Kondo, Spark Joy

Does everything spark joy? Your phone, your wallet, the little pads of paper you write on? According to Marie Kondo, yes. If those little blocks of sticky paper don't spark joy, then maybe you should find something that does. And, really, her concept is about defining who you want to be and harboring those FEW things that spark joy. In truth, after reading these books, you realize the goal is not to go out and buy more, but to create the life you want to live and Marie Kondo feels most people would choose minimalism and simplicity, the essence of quiet to spark joy. Instead of shelves full of items that sort of spark joy, you have two items on that same shelf that truly ring true to the home you want to create and the rest can provide joy for someone else.

I think this can be a challenge for many people.

"But this does spark joy! I love it! I never use it, but I love it!"

Does this image spark joy? 

Really? How much do you love something that you never use or will use. Or are you misinterpreting joy? Kondo's books really get into the heart of the matter with this and in her matter-of-fact way, she's asking clients and readers to really master themselves and find what truly sparks joy. What most people find is that it's not the stuff they have that spark joy - it's what it means to them.

Why does the dolphin fountain spark joy? Or is it the connection to nature?

Why does your iPhone bring you joy? Or is it the connection to others?

I am a fan of her methods. I think she helps readers and clients find respect for the things they do have and give away what they just don't need, want, or desire. She helps people find a better way to present their belongings to themselves to make your home feel better, more peaceful, more joyful - whatever you are truly wanting. She starts by having clients envision what they really want their home to be, then methodically discarding what isn't part of that vision. Most people won't have visions of stacks of magazines on their floor. What they want is inside that magazine (the ideas, the information, the creativity). She assists clients in getting to know themselves and that's why her rebound percent is non-existent.

In her newest book, Spark Joy, she tackles how to define what joy is and what it feels like. Many folks don't know or they think they know what joy is. Joy is not sentimentality or holding onto hundreds of sugar packets because grandma kept them in her closet (unless Sweet n' Low brings you great joy). She also translates the difficult task of learning how to fold, what to store, etc. with a no-nonsense method by really engaging the reader or client to see the tangible items as living energy - without really saying that. How we treat what we have around us, that which we choose to express ourselves with, is reflective of what we feel about ourselves. Crumpled-up heaps of clothes on the floor, dirty with clean, tells much about how who you choose to be, as much as a closet that is color-coded. Neither is right or wrong, but being aware of what you are choosing makes life more joyful and reflective on what you might not appreciate as much within yourself.

And, this method begins to help you recognize what joy feels like. Each time you shop or find something new, you can ask yourself the same question and feel the answer. It will change what you choose to bring home.

Organized the KonMari way.

Her new book is a more hands-on approach to tidying (not cleaning, mind you. Cleaning and tidying are two different things, according to Kondo, and I completely agree after she explains her thoughts on it.). There are illustrations, in-depth guides to specific types of situations, and a more detailed approach to figuring out what to keep and what not to keep. Fewer personal stories with considerable guidance to finding your own personal oasis.

Highly recommend, if you are willing to really evaluate yourself. I also advocate something strongly that isn't really expressed much in either book: donate those items, give them to friends, sign up for Buy Nothing (www.buynothingproject.org) or another gift economy, but avoid the landfill, if you can. There's already enough garbage in there and unless that item is truly unusable, there may be someone out there who finds great joy in what you no longer do.

"I believe that when we put our things in order and strengthen our bonds with what we own, we get back in touch with that delicate sensitivity to mono no aware*. We rediscover our innate capacity to cherish the things in our lives and regain the awareness that our relationship with the material world is one of mutual support. 

If you feel anxious all the time, but are not sure why, try putting things in order. Hold each thing you own in your hands and ask yourself whether or not it sparks joy. Then cherish the ones that you decide to keep, just as you cherish yourself, so that every day of your life will be filled with joy." ~ Marie Kondo, Spark Joy

*Mono no aware is a Japanese term that literally means "pathos of things," describing the deep emotion that is evoked when we are touched by nature, art, or the lives of others with an awareness of their transience. (from Spark Joy by Marie Kondo)

**Note: this book was given to me via Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.