In “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” Marie Kondo offers us a reliable method for eliminating clutter (read stress) from our lives. She suggests we go through all the items in our homes, and then stop and ask ourselves one very basic question: “Does this item bring me joy?”
If it does, we keep it; if it doesn’t, we discard it.
On the whole, I would say this is a useful technique. There’s a huge amount of stuff we don’t want, and never use. So, clearly, all these things aren’t bringing us much joy.
But sometimes it’s a challenging process to work through. Not everything is easy, straightforward, or clear cut. For instance, we stumble when confronted with dilemmas like:
“Perhaps this tattered item doesn’t really bring me joy, but my daughter bought it for me when she eight years old.”
Or, “I know these bathroom scales aren’t going to bring me joy but, still, it might be better if I hang on to them.”
That kind of thing.
Yet, its international fame seems to indicate the book resonates, on some level, with a number of us. At least when it comes to physical clutter …
But there are other kinds of clutter that can weigh us down as well. And perhaps it’s fair to argue they’re a greater source of stress.
This is a more resistant clutter that is harder to sift through. And it’s certainly the kind that is harder to discard.
What Are we Referring to Here?
The emotional clutter we keep trying to push down – but which continues to spill over – and wreak havoc in our lives. All the bad experiences. The unwanted memories. The rejections, hurts, betrayals. All the traumas, wounds and scars.
What to do about it?
Of course, we’d love it to be gone, for it’s not a source of joy. Yet ditching it is hard; it can feel impossible.
So, perhaps, all we can do is to cut ourselves some slack. And remind ourselves, again, that some things in life are hard.
Yes, working through this stuff is like walking through quicksand.
And, despite what we might wish, it’s a lot more challenging than answering the question: “Does this sweater bring me joy?”