Develop the instinct for what really inspires joy

Kondo’s iconic system for decluttering your home suggests a fascinating filter for making decisions. 

The best way to choose what to keep and what to throw away, she says, is to take each item in your hand and ask, does this spark joy? 

If it does, keep it. If not, dispose of it. 

This is not only the simplest but also the most accurate yardstick by which to judge. 

Japanese speakers actually have a term for this very process. The word is tokimeku, which translates to mean, to flutter, throb and palpitate. 

Because that’s precisely what happens inside our body, mind and soul when we’re properly connected and engaged. We feel a thrill of joy. Imagine living in a space that contains only those kinds of things. 

Better yet, imagine living a life that contains only those kinds of things. Only those kinds of people and experiences. The ones which spark joy. What brilliant filter for daily existence. 

The tricky part is, such a system ask that we develop our instinct for what really inspires joy. Which is harder than it sounds. After all, joy is something we’ve been taught to accept as a fleeting emotion. A transient futility. 

But it’s not. It’s an attitude. A way of interacting with the world. A willingness to flutter, throb and palpitate, despite our society’s thousands of years of emotional baggage around joy as this wicked gateway to sin and indulgence and decadence. 

And if we believe that we have to deprive ourselves of enjoyment, then our instinct for identifying the spark of tokimeku will slowly fade. 

But if we’re vigilant about excising out of our lives those things, people and experiences which sprinkle water on our inner fire instead of add wood to it, then we’ll set ourselves up for the spark of joy at every turn. 


Have you accepted that some things will never inspire joy, no matter how carefully you keep them?


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Scott Ginsberg

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