Spark Joy

I finished reading Spark Joy (affiliate link) this last weekend, and everybody is feeling the results! It was a dangerous book for me to read – I’d read two pages, and then go clean out half the drawers in my kitchen. My family is starting to feel like nothing is safe in our house, which might be a good thing, because maybe they’ll start hiding their stuff, and that means less clutter.;)

I wasn’t actually planning to read Spark Joy, but I stumbled across it at the library, and decided to skim through it. It ended up being a lot more interesting and helpful than I was anticipating. I had low expectations because it’s a sequel, and is the sequel ever as good (or better!) than the first book?!

It’s by Marie Kondo, the author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up (affiliate link), which surprisingly lived up to it’s name – I think my life was changed from reading it! I read it during my decluttering challenge in 2015 (which you can read about here, here, and here), and it was a huge contributing factor to me reaching my goal of decluttering 2015 things in the year 2015. What impacted me the most from The Life-Changing Magic was the way Marie Kondo changes the usual decluttering question of “What do I want to get rid of?” to “What do I want to keep?”

She recommends emptying everything out of your closet or cupboard or drawer, picking up each item, and considering if it’s worth keeping, based on one qualification – does it spark joy? In the beginning, that seems like a strange question, but I quickly found there were some clothes I didn’t like wearing, books I felt guilty for not reading, and knives or potato peelers which were annoying to use. Marie Kondo claims that as you exercise your ability to find joy, you will become better at determining which objects are increasing pleasure in your life (even if the “pleasure” they produce is just by being useful).

By the time you finish the process all over your house, getting rid of anything you don’t love or appreciate, you are left only with things you love. I find it takes all the guilt and heaviness out of decluttering – never get rid of something you truly want to keep. If you want to keep it, it sparks joy. Keep nothing out of guilt or obligation.

While I completely love this idea, I felt as though I got it figured out the first time around, when I read The Life-Changing Magic. I wasn’t sure what Spark Joy would add to my life.

Reading it has solidified the ideas from Kondo’s first book, and it’s just very motivating to read, even if there’s nothing groundbreaking in the second book. It was good to be reminded of what I learned in 2015. There were also a lot of very helpful, practical storage and organization tips for specific areas of the house, and my kitchen drawers have never looked better.:) I’ve learned that it’s actually possible to experience a spark of joy from opening my underwear drawer and seeing everything neatly organized.

Kondo claims that if you get rid of enough stuff, find a place for everything that remains, and spend just a minimal amount of time maintaining it, your house will never get messy again.

I have not achieved this in the areas I share with the four other people in our home, but I’m definitely seeing the truth of it in the areas that are mine to maintain, and don’t get messed up by others. This ties in with what Marie Kondo says you should do when family members don’t want to declutter – deal with your own stuff first, which should keep you busy for quite some time, and by the time you’re done, there’s a good chance the desire to simplify will spread. It’s quite contagious!:)

Also, I’ve noticed that when my areas are tidy, like the kitchen, our bedroom and master bathroom, I can handle more clutter in the shared areas, like the living room or main room in the basement.

Kondo stresses keeping things clear – I found it interesting that even in the kitchen, she recommends leaving your counters as bare as possible.

I tried this a few months ago, after listening to “The Minimalists” podcast, but Marie Kondo is even more hardcore – she thinks even your soap should be stored off the counter. Trying this for the second time, I was able to get even more stuff off my counters, and the emptier it gets, the more I love it! It makes cleaning after a meal so much more enjoyable. My soap is still on the counter for the time being, but I’m eyeing this rack from Amazon for under-the-counter storage:

I also loved her view on decluttering items received from others, like gifts or cards:

“The main purpose of a greeting card is to convey a greeting. The moment you finish reading it, its job is done. Keep only those that truly spark joy.”

I feel the same about gifts – we give each other gifts to show love and try to delight others with things that would make them happy. Love is shown simply in the act of giving the gift, no matter what it is. Sometimes the delight comes in getting rid of it.;) If we are offended by the thought of someone decluttering the gifts we give them, I see two solutions: choose gifts with greater intention (like asking them what they really want, if you don’t know), and release the gift once it’s been given. You’ve given it away, and it’s not up to you to control what happens to it. Its mission was accomplished the moment you put that gift into another person’s hands, regardless of how much they end up using it. This feels very freeing to me – if I don’t find the perfect gift, it’s okay. I still gave it in love.

And so, we press on around here, getting rid of anything that doesn’t spark joy. My girls are no longer afraid of decluttering, as they were when they thought it meant getting rid of things they love. They’ve embraced the idea that getting rid of things they don’t use or like leaves more room for what they love, and will often declutter on their own (Yessss!!! That’s a huge victory!)

Marie Kondo writes that anywhere you find mess in your home, it’s a sign you haven’t gotten rid of enough yet, and it’s an opportunity to let go of items clogging your life. You guys, it’s so addicting! I know I’ve written about this many times already, but it’s really true – the more I declutter, the more fun it gets, and the more I enjoy our house.

If you’re feeling stuck, Spark Joy might be a great book for you to read – you might suddenly feel inspired to tackle the kitchen drawers! I’d recommend starting with The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, just to get you going, and then moving on to Spark Joy.

So tell me: where do you need some magical tidying up in your life? Do you enjoy decluttering, or feel stressed by it? Love or hate it?!