Is “Sparking Joy” the Right Question to Ask When De-Cluttering?

When Marie Kondo published her book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I was asked by many of my clients what my thoughts were on this book.  Then when she released her Netflix series many more were intrigued with this new process and questioned whether it had increased my business.

I cannot say her writings and TV show expanded my business in any great way but am glad that it has moved on some individuals lives to begin making changes in their homes for the good.

As I was thinking about my thoughts on Marie Kondo’s approach, I have to say I have a different set of questions that I ask when de-cluttering with my clients.

My approach and first question in the de-cluttering process is NOT “does this bring you joy?”  I always ask if it’s something they like but I want to know more if they find it useful and needed more than does it “spark joy?”

The dangers in deciding whether to keep items or not based on it “sparking joy” actually is a danger in my eyes.  Many individuals that I work with, operate on emotions as opposed to logic and a healthy thinking process.  Making decisions, based on “emotions,” is what’s got them in trouble with clutter in the first place.

I have clients that want to work on a specific project because “it will make them feel good.”  I try to discourage that thought process and to work on a project because it makes sense in the next step of de-cluttering and organizing their home.

I speak about this from my own experience.  Not necessarily in the “material” realm but from making decisions for my life based on my “emotions.”  Having emotions that were unstable and unhealed, caused me to make decisions in my life that were not in my best interest.

So, deciding to keep an item based on it “sparking joy” could potentially leave you keeping items that perhaps you should be paring down from.

Do you know that the average home has over 300,000 items and has more TVs than people?  Also, studies show that 1 out of 11 families rent off-site-storage. There are more storage facilities than there are Starbucks.

Many people have raw, unhealed emotions and use “items” as a way to feel good about themselves.  Or a way to feel happy, protected and accomplished.  But that’s where the danger comes when trying to pare down and de-clutter.  If you are asking yourself, “does this item bring me joy,” you are basing your decision on an emotion … that may be unstable.

Here are 4 reasons why I believe that’s not the best question to ask when you are de-cluttering.  This question …

  1. Can just perpetuate what got you in this situation in the first place.
  2. Doesn’t help you lessen your “consumerism.” Having less items in your home is great.  But what’s even greater is “wanting” less so you do not have to continually fight the battle of using items to make you feel better about your life.
  3. Doesn’t help you get to the root of what got you there in the first place. Using logical steps to de-clutter can help you get to the root of why you may be struggling to let items go.  Getting to the root can help you be free of this.  Understand that “knowing the truth will set you free.”
  4. Perpetuates you having items to bring you joy. Well what about getting joy from relationships, or experiences and events.  Or from pets or helping others.  That, to me, is a better process of keeping the joy in your life … not from an item.

I think a better question to ask yourself when deciding whether to keep an item might be:

Is keeping this item going to bring me to my goal?

Setting a goal is always the first step in the de-cluttering process.  Then writing that goal down for you to visually see while you are working on that project is critical.  Lastly, asking yourself that question continually is key to freeing you of holding onto items that bind you.  You can live a life of freedom.  You can live in a home that brings peace and joy … not stress and unrest.

Sometimes getting started can be hard.  That’s why working with a Health, Wellness & Organizational Coach can propel you to victory.  Feeling stuck?  Don’t stay there.  Let’s at least talk to see how I can help you move towards your goal of peace and rest.  Contact Me and let’s have a 30-minute free phone consult.

Your Health, Wellness & Organizational Coach … believing in you!


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