Is 'Spark Joy' Really Revolutionary?

I'm mystified when people wax poetic about the question: 'Does this spark joy?' It's a useful question when you are interested in getting organized but it isn't the only one you can ask.

Let's pretend for a minute that we are working together.  You have ten blouses and we need to discover which if any are going to be donated to a charity and which will stay in your closet ready to serve you.  After all, isn't that what clothing is meant to do?


As your organizer I know you will ultimately suffer from 'decision fatigue.' I want to set you up to win so I make sure you had a good breakfast, have healthy snacks on hand and are well hydrated.  Decisions are the engine that run the organizing train and they can be exhausting.  Not only are you making decisions, you are confronting your past and maybe a few decisions you regret.  I ask you to sit in a comfortable chair while I hold up each item in turn for your consideration. You can't get anywhere glancing at a rack of clothing and exclaiming: "Yes! I want it all." Nope.  In the world of Zen Organizing, you must decide the fate of each piece individually. I find that "Yes, I wear that!' and 'No! Toss it!' tumble out of my clients easily and we build up speed as the day progresses.


The items that need deeper consideration are the ones I ask you to touch. Ms. Kondo is right.  The simple act of touch helps you decide because it releases your deeper feelings about the garment.  A closet tells the story of your life.  It's like reading a great short story. I NEVER take everything out and make a pile on the floor.  I find that being disrespectful to my garments. We remove everything moving one item at a time until the bedroom is full of individual piles designated for specific purpose.  The items that are to stay continue to hang in the closet.  I bag up your donations and items going to the dry cleaner.  And then I set about organizing the clothing that will continue to serve you.  Every category has an area and each category is arranged in color order.  For my purposes I use the following order: white/off white; beige/brown; blue/purple; yellow/green; and grey/black. When you decide you need your white long sleeve blouse (or any other item) there is only one spot in the closet for it to be.  An empty hanger in the designated spot tells you the blouse may be at the dry cleaner or in the laundry.  Time saved.  No extra energy expended.


I like everything facing one direction on uniform hangars.  We are impacted by the visual and every Zen Organized project must be beautiful to look at, completely functional and easy to maintain.  If my client has an entry closet I relieve congestion by moving coats, boots and umbrellas to that closet.  If you live in a large home and can move your off season clothing to a separate closet, I invite you to do so.  The off season garments can in Ms. Kondo's parlance get a much needed rest while the current season will have room to breathe. Keep non clothing items out of your closet.  Unlike Ms. Kondo I appreciate the beauty of a well made organizing item.  I generally shop at The Container Store so over the years I can add to my stash if need be without getting into a visual riot of color and shape.  Zen is what I create throughout your home.


Let's get back to those 10 blouses I mentioned.  Let's pretend I ask you if each one 'sparks joy' and you decide that only 2 provide that experience.  I now have 8 ready to be donated to charity. Now let's pretend that I ask you different questions like: "Do you want this?"  If you hesitate I ask: "When was the last time you wore it?" or "What is your hesitation?"  The outcome will be the same.  Eliminating is the first key step in getting organized and the question that tells me what you wish to keep or what you wish to donate will bring us to the same result.  These are in fact two sides of the same coin. 


Use the questions that you must relate to without getting stuck in magical thinking.



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