What A Japanese Cleaning Tip Can Teach Us About Joyful Living

JOY. \ˈjȯi\ noun.

a feeling of great happiness. success in doing, finding or getting something great. 

Japanese organizational expert, Marie Kondo, has taken cleaning to a whole new level by reinventing how and why we should declutter. Her simple perspective is the foundation for the KonMari method, which helps with a problem we can all relate to – whether it is sorting through our childhood homes to pack for college or doing some serious spring cleaning, we’ve all dealt with the dilemma of having to decide whether to keep something or get rid of it. Marie Kondo’s solution to this is to simply hold up each item and ask “Have you brought me joy?”. If the answer is yes, keep it. If not, toss it.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary states that joy is “great happiness”. So joy goes beyond being happy; it’s more than a temporary emotion and creates more than a single moment of contentment. I believe joy is recurring happiness, a more permanent pleasure. For example, ice cream can bring happiness, but eating ice cream with friends brings joy. It’s about the more meaningful things, beyond mere indulgence. That being said, joy is about more than materialism. And while Marie Kondo’s methods are genius for decluttering and learning to appreciate simplicity, her ideas inspire an even grander picture. Imagine how satisfying it could be to apply her method to every aspect of life; if we could take a close look at everything we do and ask “Have you brought me joy?”. Ah what an incredibly powerful question that is.

It can be that easy though. Far too often we underestimate how much power we have in our own lives, which is such a shame. We have the ability to get rid of something if we don’t believe it is serving us or helping us become better versions of ourselves. Take for example being in an organization that didn’t turn out being what you expected it to. Surely, we can stick around and give it a chance, but after a while we should step back and think about how (if at all) it is serving us. And if we don’t see ourselves full of joy because of it, we can’t be afraid to go a different path. Quitting does not always make you a quitter.

We can apply to this to the organizations we join, the people we surround ourselves with, or the degrees we pursue. Of course, there are other aspects to consider, and life requires that we maintain a certain level of practicality, but in the end we have to be honest and respect ourselves. These are our own lives we are living and we owe it to ourselves to make sure they are what we want.

We challenge you all to take a look at the things in your life and ask “have you brought me joy?” and be honest in your answer. Not to suggest dropping just anything, but we hope that if you find an obvious culprit, you can have the courage and respect to quite simply – toss it. And for all the things that do bring you joy, may you transcend beyond your fears and doubts to hold on steadfastly, knowing they are rightfully in your life.

Angela Keele

Editorial Contributor, Texas A&M University Major: International Studies & French Her heart belongs to: making the perfect cup of coffee, discovering new music, and filling her passport with copious amounts of stamps Take her away to: an art fair along the cobblestone streets of Byblos, Lebanon (or to Stars Hollow, either will do)

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