The Zen of “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo”

Why do I start seeds indoors when I can just go to the garden center or big box store and buy them in the spring?

I never really thought about what benefits, beyond choice and economy, there were to raising seedlings, or to growing a garden in general, until today.

By that, I mean, what emotional benefits I got from growing plants.

three pots of seedlings growing

Because no sooner had I packed Christmas away, then I was dragging out the shop lights, LED bulbs, heat mat, and starter containers.

Whoa, girl, what’s your hurry? Why not enjoy those few weeks without the pressures of keeping the house tidy, the larder full, and the ATM machine cranking out money.

As I thought about why setting up the seed-starting equipment “brought me joy,” I realized that a petite Japanese woman really might have unlocked the art of a creating not just a tidy household, but a satisfying life.

But, I need to begin at the beginning

Reality TV for Real

It started when I watched Season 1, Episode 1 of “Tidying Up,” with Marie Kondo (Netflix). I chuckled at how easy it is to get hooked onto reality TV.

It was fascinating to see how much stock people put in their clothes, papers, old toys, decorations, and other gadgets. Even when they knew they should, and were being suffocated by mounds of “stuff,” they wouldn’t let go.

Marie seemed to understand. As far as I could see, she never made anyone throw out anything they didn’t want to part with. She simply asked them one basic question:

Does this bring you joy? (Her actual tagline is “Spark Joy,” which is the name of her book.)

Surprisingly, her approach was effective. Some people, who I swore she’d never convince, discarded their stuff without so much as a backward glance.

Don’t be fooled, though. Her simple question is a loaded one. I think what she’s really asking is, what feelings do you get from this object, and why?

She is asking her clients to recognize the emotions the object holds for them, and how that applies (or doesn’t) to their present and future.

Once that feeling is acknowledged, the object really isn’t important anymore; because it is the feeling that we all want to remember, and relive!

With this keen understanding of how to help people better know themselves, Marie Kondo’s career has become legend.

Her question can be adapted to many routines and rituals we carry out – including my seed-starting hobby.

Know What You Need, and What You Don’t

What joy does growing plants bring? To my mind, nurturing is the aspect of gardening from which I get satisfaction. The need to nurture is strong in me; it is what made me change careers from law to teaching.

But, not everyone has such a strong need to nurture.

So, how do you become aware of what you need to feel fulfilled emotionally?

I think you can discover what triggers your emotional fulfillment in the same way that Marie Kondo approaches tidying up. Pay attention to your rituals and routines, the things you do regularly, and ask yourself the question:

Does this bring me joy?

Of course, I am talking about living mindfully. But that’s become a catch-phrase and I’m not sure I really understood it until now.

What Brings You Joy?

You need time to reflect during your day, to find out what brings you joy, and just as important, why something brings you joy.

Is it walking to the mailbox each day, because you are excited to see who has reached out to you?

Is it shopping for or cooking a meal, because you feel happy providing nourishment to your family?

For many people, taking care of a pet brings them joy. I’d probably tie that back to the fulfillment you get from nurturing someone.

Once you understand how to meet your needs, you can let go of the clutter that’s holding you back. You can live in the present and find joy in the small things.

Now, that’s a tidy way to live.

Feature art by Sacha Chua (edited) CC BY 2.0

Author: A. JoAnn

Here is where I share the beauty I find in everyday life; and the humor, too!

4 thoughts

  1. Of course, Chris! ? If it makes you happy, it can’t be that bad ?

  2. Buying “new to me” vintage cameras often transports me to a Zen place – wait, is that possible when old cameras are EVERYWHERE and there’s no flat space to work on?
    Answer – Yes

  3. Sorry that I can’t help you out. I think I’ve lost my marbles, too…

  4. It sounds like the Zen lady goes about her Zen in a very nice way. However at least humor wise I am much more of another Zen branch. “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?” Which is not necessarily the opposite of the Zen lady. As Tootles would say “don’t pitch any of those jars of marbles! You never know when you are going to need them!” Now if I could just find mine now that would make me happy.

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