A couple of years ago, I, along with millions of others, purchased the Marie Kondō book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. On the surface, it’s an instruction manual about how to organize your closets and drawers. But deep down, it’s really a roadmap to finding the things that bring us joy and ensuring it’s those nuggets that we keep in our life.

Joy is something we all need. Joy connects us to others that also understand its importance. Joy highlights all the good things in our lives, the things that make us happy. It is a word used to capture the spirit of the holiday season. And who doesn’t love singing along to Three Dog Nights, “Joy to the World”?

It may also be Pavlovian, but I don’t even think it’s possible to say “joy” without smiling. Try it. For me, it just comes out as something sounding like “juhh.”

Finding Joy by Tidying Up

Kondō’s organizing philosophy is rooted in finding joy. For most that have tackled the task of organizing and purging belongings, the typical direction is to separate items into three piles: keep, toss, donate.

finding joy by clearing clutterWhat follows are torturous rounds of decision making. There are obvious “keeps,” but then there are the “maybe I’ll use it one day” keeps. There are obvious “tosses,” such as broken items. But even then, the thought crosses “maybe I can fix it.” The donate pile has good intentions, but how many times has it just become a keep? It often just sits in that corner, waiting to be taken to Goodwill.

We go through that whole process, barely clearing any space, physically or mentally.

Like all the broken items in our home that should be headed to the trash, Kondo also trashes the “keep, toss, donate” tactic. She wants us to look at every item in our home and ask a simple question. “Does it spark joy?” If it does, keep it. If it doesn’t, then get rid of it.

Send it to the trash, donation center, eBay, Craigslist, whatever. But get it out and do it quickly and do it now!

Making Space for Joy

Physical clutter takes up mental space too. In fact, even the items that might be brand new that we haven’t used yet that we hold onto because “maybe one day I’ll need it,” are especially hindering our mental state. We actually start to resent the space it takes up; the money we wasted on something that never gets used. And the space it takes up in our home is a constant reminder of how it’s contributing to the physical clutter and wasteful spending in our life.

And those thoughts bring anything but joy.

Get rid of clutter and make room for the stuff and the people that make you happy.


The “spark joy” question works in all facets of life, not just “stuff.” There are probably people, job duties, monthly recurring subscriptions that debit from your bank account, social media accounts and other regular routines that do not spark joy in your life.

Get rid of those things and make room for the stuff and the people that make you happy.

I even found the purging process itself sparking joy. I recently started a project that has long been on my to-do list; selling off old, unused audio equipment.

Finding Joy in the Process

While the goal was to clean up space in my storage area, I found great joy in the process of preparing the items to be sold, watching their transaction status on various online selling channels, communicating with potential buyers, packing sold items up and delivering them to the post office. I felt like I was running my own store. And it was fun. It brought me joy. It also brought me some money, which was very joyful.

The destination of a life filled with joy does not need to be difficult. It’s as easy as finding the people and things that matter to us most. Keep that stuff around, and joy will be there too.

Featured Photo by Sarah Dorweiler on Unsplash
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash


Clutter — both the physical and mental kind — takes up mental space and weighs us down. What if spending time to clear the clutter and tidy up is the key to finding joy?