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Marie Kondo’s now famous question can be applied to anything and everything in our lives. 

Photo by cottonbro on

Those pants,
these pants,
your job,
your house,
your spouse,
your habits,
your jewelry,
your pens and markers,
your paper.

The problem is that we only apply it to some things. Our stuff.

There is something to be said for asking it out of everything and then going with the assumption that the problem is with us. 

You can’t change the people you wish you could change. It just doesn’t happen. Can you affect them that they will want to change?

Maybe. But this isn’t about them. It’ s about you and what you want out of your life. You can’t make life changing decisions (hem, divorce) without at least working with the other party but you can decide that you were happy with it once and see what you can do to recreate that. 

Sometimes it’s a converstiaon. Sometimes, that is therapy. Sometimes that is saying enough is enough and seeing a pattern you have to break in your own life.

Make the best choice for you and yours.

No you can’t get rid of your children. If you’re having issues with them, read the chapter in 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and remember that you have to love them with all of yourself and you have to love who they are. 

Not who you want them to be.

But I will say this brings me to my point that Kondo asks ‘Does it spark joy?’

What is joy and why is it so different than happiness?

Easy, joy is my middle name. So I know it right?

No literally, my middle name is Joy. Even if that is what I use professionally as my last name…

My mother tells two stories about it. If she’s mad at me (usually when I was a teenager) she tells people that she gave it to me so that I would always be a joy, even when I wasn’t. I never remember the second one because, well, I rarely heard it.

Joy: a source or cause of delight

But that story kind of tells me what joy is, too. It’s not something that is always happy. There is something underneath the layers that come up when we’re not looking for it. 

The example that comes to mind is about making your bed everyday. I’m a fan of fixing your life five minutes a day at a time. Think of them as mini habits and as you add more and more you’ll figure out exactly what habits you need in your life.

Like I don’t need running in my life. I just don’t. Part of it is my arches, part of it is just how I put my feet down when I walk, but I just don’t like that kindf of cardio. Now Zumba—that is my friend. 

Speaking of sparking joy.

But making my bed is really the first thing that I started with. I started just making it so I wouldn’t go to bed early in the day. I was dealing with some nasty depression and just wanting the day to end so that I could try again tomorrow.*

Somewhere I came across the advice that if you make your bed you’ve at least gotten one thing done today and that it was a good day.  So I started doing it. It didn’t always keep me from going to bed early, but it made it less likely. It also made me going to bed in the middle of the day when I wasn’t physically tired a lot less likely.  

Now that I have more studying on my life and what was going on and all the things that I’ve worked through in the last six or so years since I made that practice a part of my life, I realize there were a lot of mental exhaustion going on and that my body was trying what it knew to fix it. 

I’ve got better tools now.  And I like to use them. 

It starts with sparking joy. I read Marie Kondo’s book in 2015. I finally got ahold of it, becasue it was all the rage and well, I was still deep in my ‘possessions are good’ phase when it first came out. I then got introduced to the world of travel that I wanted more and then came across minimalism, and a variety of other things that by the time I got her book, well, I was ready for it.

I still have more paper/pen products than the average American. We are not including the scrapbooking queens on this average. 

But do all the things I have that work with paper bring me joy? Yes. 
Do they make me happy? No, but that has more to do with glue than anything. 
It is still my nemesis twenty years later.  

Your joy is something you find. It is not something you make. You can make happiness. 

I hear a lot of people saying that they want to find their happy spot. Part of the problem is that we’ve been trained to find something that always makes us happy.

But that is an impossible task. We will never be permanently happy. Things happen, people change.  

Flowers don’t grow without the rain.

We have to have the hard times in order to value the good that comes out of it.

I don’t know if this is just my mom or what but she was the person who taught me that when the going get’s tough, the tough get going.

But it’s not about getting out of it. It’s about working through it. 

You can’t wait for someone else to fix what you think is broken** and make it the way that you think it should be fixed.  That is on you. 

I was not given images of princesses waiting in towers for their prince to come. I was given toys that forced me to build stuff. 

I was really jealous they never gave me legos though…. those went to my little brother. I was wrapped up in surviving high school when he was big enough to play with them. Still jealous.

Joy Hides

That is the truth.

It usually comes after the doing. It’s the glow from after a workout. 

I feel so good after a five minute Zumba session than I do after any other workout. I’m 80% certain that has to do with my own internal rythym than anything.

But while I’m actually doing the routine—pshaa no.

Do I feel good while I’m fighting with my knitting to make it take shape? **** no.

Do get that massive sense of pride and goddammit joy when I see someone wear something that I made them even if I can see all the mistakes in it from forty feet away? Yes.

I won’t say this part is easy. The find the things that are in your life to make it better. It’s a process figuring out things. I will give the caveat that there may be things in your life that bring you some joy but in the method they are may not be the best for your life. You might like hanging outwith your friends at the bar but your budget doesn’t agree with that particular choice. Or a global pandemic might make that not possible. So what about it brings you joy?

Is it the food? The alcohol? The company? 

Most of the time, that’s is going to be the company. 

So how do we spark joy?

What brings it out of us into our lives. That is your assignment for the next week. It’ll take about five minutes total in the course of a day. 

Just write down what brings you joy. Anything and everything. 

Yes, you can get joy out of your run. I will not.

This week is not about fixing anything. It’s about establishing what is your starting point. Where do you have joy? And what things are taking it out of you?

Keep it on a sticky note, have it as a list in notes on your phone. Email yourself this information. Just keep it handy. We’ll need it next week when we figure out what your first five-minute fix is going to be.

Find your joy,

*As I’m writing this, I technically haven’t made my bed but the words to write came in full force and I know better than to let them simmer. Write then simmer at least with the outline points. 
**Since I took to this particular lesson so well was probably why I was not allowed to know of the existence of MacGyver till I was twelve.

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