Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Book Review: Spark Joy

Marie Kondo's follow up/companion to her best selling book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, both expands and refines her tidying message and methods.

The book is broken down into three sections: KonMari Master Tips, The Tidying Encyclopedia and Life Changing Magic. The first section touches upon expansion of her message; how to find that "joy spark" when none of your possessions do at first glance, how to keep going through the work, adding joy back into your house ("It's far more important to adorn your home with things you love than to keep it so bare it lacks anything that brings you joy") and life after you finish purging and storage tips and techniques.

One of the useful tips she includes is about tools;

"A simple design that puts you at ease, a high degree of functionality that makes life simpler, a sense of rightness, or the recognition that a possession is useful in our daily lives--these, too, indicate joy."

As someone who was just recently gifted a very well crafted hammer after years of using one that was duct taped together, I completely agree with this sentiment.

The second section is how to tidy or store those items that don't often spring to mind (ski poles, bulky sweaters, cell phone charger cables, etc) but she also includes step by step instructions with diagrams for the every day items. And rather than worry about doing it 'the right way', Kondo expresses throughout the book the idea of taking her message and honing it to work for you.

An interesting point that I hadn't considered fully that she explains, is "the more textual information you have in your environment, the more you home becomes filled with noise." And she means labels on the laundry detergent, bright labels on your bathroom supplies, etc.

The third section is the shortest, but like her first book, so gentle and touching. Kondo reiterates her original message but elaborates on the finer details. She wants the reader to enjoy their life and she knows that many people can't because they are bogged down, literally in some cases (she has one client who has a staircase of books that Kondo must gingerly climb up), with stuff that they don't love. Part of why tidying works, Kondo says, is because "tidying up means confronting yourself". It's easier to bury emotional baggage that you don't want to confront in cute stuff around the house.

One of the most touching passages in the book is toward the very end:
"Recently, an expression that keeps coming to mind as I work with my clients is mono no aware. This Japanese terms, which literally means 'pathos of things,' describes the deep emotion that is evoked when we are touched by nature, art, or the lives of others with an awareness of their transience." We only have but so long on this planet. Why not spend our days with the things and people that we love? That is the message Kondo wants to impart upon her readers and clients, "what really brings joy to our lives is savoring daily life, instead of taking it for granted."

A worthy idea indeed.

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