Sparking Joy


By now, if you haven’t seen the Art of Tidying Up Netflix series, or read Marie Kondo’s famous book, you’ve probably been living under a rock. This kind and spunky Japanese woman is taking the world of home organizing, clearing, and tidying by storm, and in watching her new show, I’ve been struck by something worthy of writing about:


What is it? What has it? And - just as important - what doesn’t?

Marie Kondo’s methodology involves systematically tackling certain categories of things in your home - clothes, books, papers, then miscellaneous items. Setting big piles of these groups and holding each piece, one by one, carefully considering if it sparks joy.

As I watched Marie teach some of the newbies how to do this, holding tank tops and ripped jeans to judge joy or no joy - I realized something: many of us adults are out of touch with what joy even means. We live lives of such utility - well of course I need a pair of boring black flats and these grandma undies for the times I’m feeling boring and frumpy. Right? Or, I hate this rain jacket but everyone needs a rain jacket, it’s already here so I might as well keep it. Right?

And I’m by no means preaching irrelevant and unnecessary spending or waste, but the concept of personal joy - is so uniquely well - personal. And so seriously undervalued. Joy is something that raises your energy, and makes you want to scream “eeeeeeeyyyyyyyyyy!” in that annoying, high-pitched tone of authentic excitement. Like someone has just handed you a 3 week old puppy. Or your favorite flavor of vegan ice cream on a super hot day.

Joy as a child was so easily accessible. So palpably present and readily available at every new storybook chapter, or horseback ride, or new playground to explore. Joy, for many of us, weaves its way through childhood as a priority and a key to unlock the door of each day.

I think back to early memories of deep joy and can feel it palpably in my memory bank. Like the joy of holding hands with my cousins each summer as we would run into the ocean screaming at the top of our lungs. Or the joy of baking cookies with friends for a girls sleepover. Or the joy of finding a four-leaf-clover or ladybug in the grass. Or the unabashed joy of singing Mariah Carey ballads at the top of my lungs.

As an adult, we become conditioned to de-prioritize joy for the sake of “work.” Joy is the thing that might happen after all the emails are sent, all the phone calls and meetings completed, and the kitchen cleaned. Maybe joy happens on vacations twice a year. Maybe not. But joy is often not as present in a real, daily fashion. Riding alongside you as you bike down the hill or climb your favorite tree. But as adults it is still there. Just begging to be mined, remembered, and celebrated.

As an adult, we must take action to cultivate our joy.

For some inspiration, these days my list of joy looks something like this:

  • Wandering through farmers markets

  • Picking fresh figs from my parent’s yard

  • Snuggling with my husband and puppy

  • Walking around my favorite parts of Los Angeles

  • Seeing the face of a client during a moment of deep transformation and accomplishment

  • Sipping the perfect matcha latte

  • Finding a beautiful rose on a walk around my neighborhood

  • Finishing a challenging but deeply rewarding meditation or yoga class

  • Trying a new restaurant for date night

Not too far fetched, right?

So back to Marie Kondo and this concept of “sparking joy” with your things. What if everything - every single thing you owned, in your closet in your kitchen, in your filing cabinet, even in your junk drawer, somehow sparked joy?

Sound impossible? Maybe. Worth a try? Definitely.

If we believe that joy can be a daily presence, what better way than making the way we adorn our homes and bodies a part of that spark?

This year I’m challenging myself to curate my life with the people, places, and things that light me up and make me want to yell “eeeyyyyyyyyyyy!”. It takes some deliberate action, sure. It takes some trial and error. But most importantly, it takes forging a new and deeper relationship with my own personal concept of joy. A friendly emotion that I’m committed to keeping close at hand.

All that’s left for you to consider is: would you care to join me?

photography by Darden Creative