I’m starting what I like to call “The Great Purge” in my home. I want to discard as much as I can, leaving me with a fresh canvas with which to build upon. I’m surrounded by things I don’t need, don’t use, and whose presence doesn’t bring me joy. Which is the basis for the book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying, by Marie Kondo, and the reason I picked it up. While I am only about halfway through the book, some of the wisdom that she has picked up over her years of tidying is greatly applicable to life in general.
There is a poignant moment in the book where Marie turns the corner on her reason for tidying to be one of keeping the things that give her joy and discarding the rest. She recalls having tidied over and over and over and yet things still stayed cluttered. At one point, she sits down on the ground in defeat and thinks: “Would someone please tell me why my room isn’t tidy when I work so hard at it!” A thought comes to her that she needs to look more closely at the items surrounding her. She realizes that she has been so focused on getting rid of the unwanted, that she had lost sight of the things that she cherished and that brought her joy and pleasure. At this moment, she shifts her mindset about tidying to one of keeping the things that give her joy, and letting go of the things that she’s indifferent to, or that doesn’t support her in living a joyful life.
We should be choosing what to keep, not what we want to get rid of. ~ Marie Kondo
This idea, of shifting our focus from changing, or discarding, the unwanted, to focusing on cherishing the things that make us happy and give us joy, can be easily applied to a general mindset about life, not just tidying.
When facing change, or making decisions about life – work, relationships, environment, health, etc – we usually think about changing, or getting rid of, the things that we don’t want. That’s very reasonable and normal, right? Experiencing something we don’t want is usually the catalyst for creating change in the first place. However, as Marie says in her book, always being focused on discarding the things that we don’t want, perpetuates a mindset of negativity – of looking for, and always being aware of, the unwanted.
When is the last time you looked around your life and purposefully focused on the things that you do want – the things that you like, the people you cherish, the work projects you enjoy?
Our normal, and most comfortable, thought process usually goes something like this: “I really don’t like my body (job/relationship/location). I don’t like the fat around my middle. I don’t want the rolls that appear above my waistband. I want to get rid of this body, this fat, this discomfort.” And then it becomes a matter of restriction, of resistance, and of more negative thoughts – continuously noticing the unwanted.
The mindset shift Marie talks about, is simple, but not easy, since our brains are naturally wired to lean toward negativity. As stated above, instead of focusing on what you don’t want, shift your focus to what you do what. That looks like: “I really love feeling healthy. I like having more energy. I enjoy being more active”, etc. With that mindset, it’s not one of restriction, its one of adding MORE into your life, but at the highest level of supporting your joy, and the cursory, unnecessary, unsupportive behaviors can start to fall away, when we focus on those things that we do want and enjoy.
We focus so hard on “what to discard, on attacking the unwanted obstacles around [us]”, that we lose sight of why we’re doing it in the first place. Why do we want to get rid of that weight? Why do we want to change jobs? Why is it essential to move into a new space? The why is important. And the usual, basic, foundational answer is “to be happy”. At the core, why anyone does anything, is because they think it’ll make them feel better.
So, this week, in your pursuit of feeling better, of being happy, shift your focus away from the job you hate, or the extra pounds you want to get rid of, and look at the things in your life that truly give you joy – including elements of that job, or your body, or your relationship, that you can still look at with satisfaction. Let that mindset guide you in deciding what you keep in your life, and then let the unwanted start to fall away.
If you are curious to learn more about how to implement this kind of mindset in your own life, contact us!