Episode 50: Spark Joy
Welcome back, my friends! Thanks for being here. We’re at number 50! Isn’t that exciting? You listeners and friends are just awesome and I’m really glad you’re here on this journey with me. So fun, so much growth and I am so grateful for you!
I hope you are having a beautiful day and if you’re not, I hope it’s about to get beautiful because I have something good for you all today! As you know every 10th episode I bring you one of my favorite books or teachers that have shaped me so that you can dive in and learn from these incredible people as well.
Today we’re diving into the work of Marie Kondo who you all know is the organizational guru and as I was reading her book I was just blown away by how adaptable her concepts were for our mental state. We accumulate quite a bit of clutter in our minds and most of us don’t know how to clear it away and on top of that truly making it a space where joy is not only possible but that it takes up the majority of the space.
She has a Netflix show that I will admit I’ve only seen half of one episode. I’m not a huge tv watcher and I was waiting for my girls to get out of their music lessons so while I was waiting I turned it on and watched some but didn’t get to finish it but I loved her nonetheless. So I’m going to advocate for reading the book because it’s incredible and I think everyone needs to pick it up but the TV show looks amazing too.
Let me give you some back story to all this and my experience with her teachings. For years and years, I struggled with the state of my home or my thoughts about it, which is more accurate. I really love a clean, organized house and for years I engaged in a daily struggle and I thought it was because I have four kids, and especially when they were little it seemed impossible to have what I wanted. We’ve always homeschooled so we’re always home together which I love but you can imagine that it’s easy for things to get loved and lived in easily.
So for years, I blamed my struggle on the fact that I had kids. That’s why I couldn’t have a clean house and it was frustrating and limiting because I felt stuck. We tried a zillion things to get the house clean, chore charts, incentives, dangling figurative carrots, and rewards. I’d go through and just bag up all the stuff on the floor and threaten to throw it all away but really I wasn’t going to because I bought all that stuff and didn’t want to waste my money. So that wasn’t effective and it was emotionally taxing and I’d end up giving it all back anyway which just meant that the clutter and the buildup and the mess was back within a few days.
And it was this cycle that would just keep repeating itself again and again. And I know there’s a great many people in that same boat that are looking for then answer. We tried chore charts, and incentives, and consequences, and bribery, long talks, just about everything, and the cycle would still continue until I found Marie’s method which is so beautiful.
Think about the model for a moment. In life, there are Circumstances – things out of our control that trigger thoughts. Theses thoughts generate emotions for us. These emotions drive our actions and our actions create our results.
For years I was so focused on the A-line – cleaning, picking things up, getting rid of things, buying them again, cleaning, picking things up = all actions.
And while I was focused on changing the a line I wasn’t paying attention to what was driving all of it in the first place – my T line – my thoughts. I was treating the symptoms and not the actual cause and this is what Marie brings to the table which is why it was so pivotal for myself and for millions of others.
Her main focus is on your mental state and starting from the inside out. She says,
“People cannot change their habits without first changing their way of thinking”
And it’s this same concept that will work for clearing out emotional clutter and build up as well.
For many of us, we’re focused on our A-line – if we can just hustle and do these things THEN we’ll feel better. But we forget that actions don’t create our feelings only our thoughts do so we keep thinking that if we can just do something then we’ll feel better but the feelings are still there because we haven’t treated the cause that’s creating them in the first place.
So many of you know her tag line – it’s actually the title of her second book, which is to “Spark Joy”.
This is her intention and focus when she steps into a space. Does it spark joy for you? And in the book, she talks about what this really means and I want you to think about it, what sparks joy for you?
When I introduced this to my kids we talked about what sparks joy for us and they had ideas of their pets. Just that giddy, we love them, instant burst of joy moment. Disneyland came up, seeing an old friend and you just get that grit your teeth and this surge of happiness.
What sparks joy for you? This is an important question so I invite you to spend time with it. Really ponder what sparks joy for me? Write it down and keep adding to the list!
The more you’re familiar with this feeling the easier it will be for you to be able to clear out thoughts and beliefs that aren’t serving you anymore so that you can cultivate a space of joy.
Now, I’ve talked about joy before and I absolutely love it because joy isn’t happiness. Joy is more whole, it’s full, it allows for the entire human experience both the ups and the downs in order to create a complete, rich feeling.
Which I love because we need both the positive and negative emotions to create a complete, full life. In fact, we want both, we want the contrast because without it we couldn’t even experience happiness. We need the counterpart but we can adjust and steer our focus towards optimism, positivity, and love because these feelings broaden your perspective and open you up to limitless possibilities and potential.
Kondo says, “Imagine yourself living in a space that contains only things that spark joy. Isn’t this the lifestyle you dream of?”
Funny story, I gathered all my kids together one morning for our morning group time and I told them that we were going to do something amazing and super fun. I started telling them that it was going to take a little time and we’d have to learn a few new tricks but that they were really going to like it. So you can imagine the groans I got when I started explaining that we were going to learn how to “spark joy”. My daughter, she was 10 looked at me in complete dismay and was like, “what?! THIS is the fun thing? Getting rid of our stuff?!”
And I said, “no, that’s not what we’re doing. We’re creating a place of joy. We’re learning how to curate our very own Disneyland, where when you walk in and it’s full of everything you absolutely love. It’s clearing out the things that are just okay, or the things that are taking up space, or the things you liked in the past but maybe you’ve outgrown them.
Having to get rid of things or thoughts sounds daunting and you’re going to meet it with a lot of resistance so changing it to curating, “I’m curating a space of joy” gives you a sense of purpose and dedication. It draws you in and gives your brain a project and you know how much your brain loves projects, right?
And what a fun and meaningful project to give it. How can I curate my mind to be a place of joy?
Imagine that. Image how beautiful that mind would be and how beautiful the character and actions of the person who has that, right?
You already know you have thoughts that aren’t serving you but the problem is and question is, “how can I get rid of it?”
It’s not a T-shirt that we can just throw in the bag and never have to look it again. These are thoughts and not tangible items.
This is why I stress again and again the importance of doing daily brain dumps or thought downloads. You have to make it known, get it out on paper. Don’t edit or leave things out because you don’t want to own up to them or deal with them. I promise you, you’re paying the price for them while they’re circulating in your mind.
Each thought you think and believe creates a feeling and each time it comes around you’re feeling the weight of it again and again.
Give yourself the gift of making them tangible. Write it down. Get it on paper so now it’s not as slippery. You can grasp it and work with it.
We don’t get rid of thoughts like we would physically get rid of a t-shirt but we can become more aware of, examine, question, and then rewire our brain to not think or believe those thoughts anymore.
Marie says, “Ask yourself “Why?” again, for each answer. Repeat this process three to five times for every item. As you continue to explore the reasons behind your ideal lifestyle, you will come to a simple realization. The whole point in both discarding and keeping things is to be happy.”
And I absolutely love this. Too often we don’t take the time to simply question our thoughts, not even the most painful of thoughts. We just sit with them, worse, we believe them and we continue to create a painful, insecure image of ourselves.
Let’s look at this a bit closer. A thought I hear pretty frequently from my clients when they’re on their lowest and most vulnerable place they believe that they’re a nobody. They’re not making a difference in this world. They don’t really matter. And I know they’re not alone. And what you want to do instead of wallowing with that and feeling terrible and beating yourself up in comparison traps. Write it down.
Make it tangible. This is not the same as making it real or solidified. This is putting it somewhere so it can stop looping in your head. When you write it down it’s no longer slippery and now you can question it. 3-5 times question it. So it might look something like this:
I don’t matter.
The first question – just take the statement and add a question mark.
I don’t matter?
Now before you dive into your story again and feeling awful and insignificant you want to look directly AT the question itself. Does this thought serve me?
This is like asking yourself – why are you so fat?
Totally not going to be helpful. You would want to reframe that to find a healthier and more useful question – what can I do to improve my health rather than why am I so fat – trust me, you do not want your brain to answer that. It’s a terrible idea. Instead, you want to focus on what’s going to help you move forward. Answering that question won’t serve you. It’s just going to create even more negative feelings which is going to prompt you to want to find more comfort and an easy source of quick comfort is even more food. So don’t waste your mental energy on questions that aren’t substantial or serving. Instead, just question the thought itself.
Why am I keeping this thought? Is it serving me? Will it serve me? Is this something I want to believe? What would happen if I didn’t believe this thought?
This is one of my favorite questions to ask because it allows you to see hope. We usually too far into our own dark corner that we can’t even see what the other side looks like or what it might feel like if you didn’t believe that thought. Give yourself that gift of just pausing and asking yourself, what it would look like if you didn’t believe that thought.
Doing this doesn’t get rid of the thought, it just offers you an insight into where you want to go. Like Marie says, “Believe what your heart tells you when you ask, “Does this spark joy?”
If the answer is a clear no then you need to stop entertaining it with indulging in it. Stop giving it your time and energy and start reframing it to one that WILL spark joy for you.
These are not happy, sunshine and rainbow thoughts. Those at this point could be equally damaging because you might not believe them yet and then your brain will be ultra quick to tell you why you can’t believe that and put you in an even darker place than you were before. Don’t try it. Not fun.
Instead, take that first question,
“I don’t matter?” And build from it.
Is it possible that you matter to one person?
Answer that. Do you matter to Heavenly Father? To Jesus Christ? To your family? To your kids? To your neighbor? To your ward? To your dog? Not really a person but we can’t count it.
If the answer is yes, and for sure it is. Then you can build from here. If I matter to ONE person is it possible I matter to more?
Is it possible that I matter to me? And because they need me, because I need me I do indeed matter and can keep going because I’m needed?
Do you see the shift in these powerful questions? Do you feel the difference each question offers?
Little by little you reframe these thoughts and it gets you closer and closer and closer to joy. Kondo says, “When you tidy your space completely, you transform the scenery. The change is so profound that you feel as if you are living in a totally different world.”
Take this from a mental perspective and think about tidying your mind daily. When you take all those thoughts you’ve been holding onto for years and the story you’ve been believing that hasn’t served you and will never serve you and you begin questioning and reframing you can start to transform your mental space completely. The scenery does change. Instead of seeing people judging you all the time you start picking up on their smiles, their warm gestures, their love, their encouragement, their gratitude for you, for you existing and being alive.
It is as if you’re living in a totally different world, one of hope, beauty, encouragement, and belonging. Isn’t this the space you’ve been searching for? Isn’t this the place that would spark joy for you? Isn’t this worth the effort?
Kondo tells her clients that her criteria for keeping an item is “that you should feel a thrill of joy when you touch it.”
When you think the thoughts you purposely hold onto, does it offer you a thrill of joy? When was the last time you felt a thrill? One of my favorite lines in the most beloved Christmas song, “O Holy Night” is, “A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices”
Will you give yourself this gift of offering you a thrill of joy, a thrill of excitement, a thrill of hope into your life? Will you work towards cultivating this space for you in your mind?
Now I want to draw your attention to another aspect of our thoughts. There are some thoughts that seemed so necessary for a while. They seemed useful and helpful which might not be so helpful anymore. Labels you’ve kept either for yourself or for others. Those labels once seemed like a security blanket and helped you move forward from an unhealthy space but are now hindering your progress.
For example, there may have been some relationships that weren’t serving you in the past and for a time it was helpful and the next step to see them as difficult, toxic, dangerous, or bad. For a time it was useful for you to see them as such because it helped you distance yourself from them when maybe that was the push you needed at that time.
Just like for a child that might not be able to understand the why’s of things yet like a hot stove, you might simply tell them, that’s bad, we don’t touch it. And they grow up thinking the stove is bad until they’re a little older and able to process the role of heat and how to take precautions and why they’d want to be mindful of the stove. The stove is no longer “bad” but helpful. It serves a purpose.
So like that “bad” stove. We are harboring thoughts and labels of people, places, or things that for a time, “bad” worked. It kept you safe and protected but now you’re growing and you’re ready to progress from those thoughts.
Those thoughts are limiting and holding your back from exploring your full potential. To those thoughts, I invite you to look at them deeply and thank them for serving their purpose.
Marie emphasizes this. Everything that leaves the homes of her clients and her own home she thanks. She says, “To truly cherish the things that are important to you, you must first discard those that have outlived their purpose…There is a reason why each one of your belongings (thoughts) came to you…If you are letting go of an item, giving thanks is also a way of properly saying goodbye, so that you can mark the end of your relationship with the item and release it without guilt.”
Your brain will want to hang onto it. It kept you alive so to your primitive brain that’s a worthy thought to keep. But you, using your agency gets to decide what caliber of thoughts that helps you thrive. Those labels, those thoughts, those boxes that were once useful and protected you aren’t helping you anymore. They’ve served their purpose. By acknowledging that and the role they played in your life can help you let them go and reframe them by then seeing clearly the direction you want to go in.
You have to teach your brain that it’s okay, thank you for helping me and now we’re working toward this future.
For example, your brain telling you that you’re fat may have once seemed like it served you. It guilted you enough into not picking up the next cookie or going to the kitchen. So your brain noted that. It got the outcome it needed – not indulging. But it’s not helping you thrive or feel good. So to level up you need to acknowledge that you’ve outgrown that thought. It served it’s purpose. Thank you for doing the best you could at that time and for trying to help me. But now we’re moving forward and practicing the thought, “My body deserves the best foods and fuel”
Do you see the progression here?
Acknowledge the thought, thank it, note the purpose it served, and then send it off by staying close to your why, your new direction, your new purpose.
It’s important to do this and not try and skip this step if you do the thoughts will continue coming back because they think they’re still helping you serve your purpose so when you single the thoughts out and are intentional and deliberate in what you want to believe and work towards it teaches your brain that this is the new direction we’re moving in so you can continue to move forward and thrive without limitations.
I can’t tell you how valuable this process is. You have to experience it and once you do you’ll be forever changed. It is more than possible to create within you a space of refuge, safety, and joy.
You have to come from the space of the curator. You are the curator for your mind. What do you want your space to look like? Does everything you’re keeping fit in concordance with your overall message and theme? Does it spark joy for you?
When I was using Marie’s method for my house and it came to the books and my happy space, my school room/crafting room I was hesitant to declutter. There were books that I loved and things that I paid for that were difficult to part with but when I realized that I wouldn’t purposely buy that if I saw it on the shelf today or seeing that it no longer sparked joy for me I made the choice to thank it and let it go and the effects were incredible because when I walk into that space when I look at my bookshelf and I love, absolutely love everything I see it really is a thrill of joy.
You don’t realize how much extra, the unnecessary weight you’re carrying around until you declutter. This is especially true in your mind. You don’t realize how much energy you’re expending each day on negative, unnerving thoughts. Lighten your load. Examine what’s inside. Do a daily brain dump to keep the clutter from piling up. I promise you it’s worth the effort.
This is your life. This creates the quality of your life. Is there anything more important than the lens through which you experience your world? The way you see the people in your world?
I know this can seem daunting and overwhelming which is why I can’t stress coaching enough. Coaches can see things that you can’t because you’re just too close to it. Even as a coach we coaches get coached regularly. It’s imperative to maintain the highest quality of life that we constantly evaluate what we’re thinking and ultimately what we’re creating for ourselves.
Come get coached. Join the Catalyst membership and get hands-on help. It doesn’t have to be costly or break the bank. The small $50 investment you pay is entirely worth it to help you curate your own personal Disneyland full of wonder, magic, joy, and love. I invite you to come check it out. And for a limited time, I’m offering for you to try it out for a month for just $20. That’s less than one pizza night.
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Okay all, that’s what I’ve got for you today. I have so much more that I could share with you about Marie Kondo and what I learned from her but it’d be an exceptionally long episode so go check it out. Read it and start applying. And if you’re in the membership print off the podcast workbook to dive deeper into the things we discussed today. These podcast workbooks are gold! So make sure to grab yours. Alright, my beautiful friends. Read her book. Her title rings true, there is MAGIC in this method both for your living space and especially your mental living space!
Talk to you next time!