How choosing what “Sparks Joy” helps us become better decision-makers

I considered calling this post “The REAL magic of the Konmari Method” – because it simply is.

Yes – when you undergo the life-changing magic you will come out of it with a clear, organized, joy-sparking home. But there is a secret that underlies this method – you’re working towards something even more life-changing: you’re learning to trust your intuition when making decisions, and to listen to your body when it’s telling you what’s in your best interest.

I won’t get too caught up in the numbers – but it’s said the average person has over 20 000 possessions. According to the L.A. Times, the average American household has over 300 000 items. Fun numbers to keep in your mind – we’ll come back to this.

What sparks joy?

I consider “does it spark joy” to be a kind of shorthand for “is this in alignment with the life I want to be living, and who I want to be?”. If you’ve done any core value work, you might have a better understanding of the kind of alignment you are looking for. When tidying a workplace, you might even ask “does it spark creativity” or something similar.

I’ve written about the value of dreaming up your life and creating an inspiration or intention for your tidying journey – and I think asking what sparks joy can really be a quick way of seeing if the item aligns with the intention you’ve set.

Here’s the catch. I do not ask my clients to think about what sparks joy, but rather to feel the answer – moving from the head to the heart. In the KonMari Method, we are seeking a physical reaction that occurs when touching an item. At the beginning of our first session, we’ll explore what joy feels like for you, physically & emotionally, and you’ll learn to tap into and search for this feeling through your clothes.

By doing this, we are actively inviting our intuition (or, our gut muscle) to activate and have a seat at the table. Like any muscle, as we use the gut muscle we are training it at knowing joy from no-joy, right from wrong, yes from no.

Practice makes perfect

There are two “etherial” muscles I’ve trained in my life: Intuition, and Discipline. When you work out at the gym, as you use a muscle it gets tired out. It tires you out. And if you go back a few days later to work the same muscle, and again a few days after that, eventually you’ll see the muscle gets stronger. You can lift heavier – or lift many more times.

Discipline, the self-control muscle, is one that follows this pattern – especially in a weight loss journey. At the beginning of the day, it’s easy to start off eating healthy: You use a tiny bit of your discipline to avoid the sugary cereal. Later, at work, you use discipline to do the job. Then, in the afternoon when a co-worker brings cookies, discipline comes into play again. As you use this muscle it starts to tire out.

Use too much discipline throughout the day – and that’s when you might find yourself digging into a bag of chips at midnight. At least, at first. After a couple days of using a moderate amount of discipline to activate your core healthy habits, it becomes easier to use more.

Interested in learning more about discipline and the habits that can help you reach your goals? Join me for The Habit Reset Retreat at Northern Edge Algonquin.

Intuition is more illusive than discipline. There are fewer opportunities to use it, and when you ignore it there’s usually hell to pay (at least in my experience.)

Trust your gut

I’ve had many run-ins with not trusting my gut. The first time I recognized I was going against my gut instinct, I was in high school. I’d been sitting in the hall with friends, and had to walk across the school to check a schedule that was printed at the office. I assumed my friends would stick around in my short absence, and left my bag with them – without double checking.

Fifteen steps later, my gut intervened – but there was a delicate time balance and I chose to ignore my intuition. When I returned, my friends were elsewhere and my bag was gone (later found in the girls’ bathroom torn apart, Video iPod™ stolen.) I vowed to trust my gut in the future, and have mostly done so since.

Our bodies are smarter than we know. They create cravings based on imbalances we aren’t aware of. They give tingles down the spine when we need to be wary. They react and charge us up positively when faced with items, activities, and people that spark joy.

Training the intuitive muscle

The KonMari Method is structured purposefully. We don’t dive into decluttering old family photographs right off the bat – we train. We work first on clothing, where it’s often easiest to identify “joy”. What fits well, looks good, feels comfortable, feels soft, has a lovely colour – these are all ways that these items can bring us joy, and the bountiful ways make it easier to recognize when our body reacts to joy.

We work our way through other categories: books, papers, everything and the kitchen sink before we turn to sentimental objects – because those are the hardest to make decisions about. And still, when we get to them – we discard based on joy, and with a ton of gratitude.

I mentioned some numbers earlier. Whether you’re statistically average and have 20 000 things, or just a few hundred, that’s still many opportunities to practice and hone your intuition. Each item you pick up during a session is a learning opportunity and a time to go inward, checking in and learning what your body believes is in your best interest. It’s a workout.

What would it be like to make 20 000 gut-based, intuitive, intentional decisions – choosing yourself and your best interest each time?

Life-changing, Life-affirming

This is why it is called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. There is a natural understanding, I think, that upon completing the KonMari Method with our physical items we will move on to make healthy decisions about our activities, our digital clutter, our friend lists, work commitments, to-do items, and more.

The Konmari Method is glitzy – Yes, the minimal photos are all idealist and Marie Kondo has become a pop culture phenomenon. Also, yes – the method when done completely is a uniquely transformational process that will teach you more about your values and how to trust your gut than you could imagine.

Comment below about a time you trusted your intuition. What was the result?

Interested in experiencing the magic for yourself? Drop me a line to say hello, and let’s see what we can do to get started.

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