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The spark of joy

The spark of joy

Recently there has been a quiet revolution growing, and no, I am not talking about the women’s marches in the US, or the Brexit protests in the UK, or even the rallies against climate change across Europe. No. What I am referring to is the revolution against clutter: the Marie Kondo effect (I did tell you it was a quiet revolution). For those of you not familiar with Marie Kondo or her so-called effect, she is a Japanese self-proclaimed ‘tidying’ consultant, who focuses on minimalism and getting rid of clutter. And while I don’t wish to spend this column discussing the merits of such an approach, it did get me thinking.

Many people fixate too much on material things. I know this is probably not news to you, but how often do you really stop and think how much your life is guided by ‘things’, I mean really think. How often do you find yourself sat in a room watching a show, while simultaneously scrolling through your phone, sat next to a friend or partner doing pretty much the same thing, pretty much ignoring the show and the other person? Or what about the increasing obsession with activity trackers and smart watches? No longer content with our devices monopolising our time, they now also command us to get fitter and sleep better like silently aggressive boot camp leaders! And with each failed performance, our device overlord exudes quiet side eyes of disappointment; and we end up feeling increasingly worse not better.  

Our lives have been made much more complicated by the very things that were designed to make them easier. Marie Kondo’s method is all about keeping those items that bring you joy and getting rid of those that don’t. And I do think there is something in that. And not just for material things either.

Many people spend far too much time agonizing over the people in their life, desperate for validation, to be liked and cared for. When, in reality, you shouldn’t need to. There is an expression that talks about how people enter our lives for a season, a reason or a lifetime. And sometimes when that time is up, there is nothing that you can do to change that. So just let them go, declutter, and you will feel all the better for it. 

Michael Stewart-Evans, UNU-Merit alumnus

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