On Netflix there is a wildly popular show featuring Marie Kondo, a professional organizer. Over-night we have all adopted certain phrases from the show into our vocabulary. Most notable for me has been the question “does this spark joy?”. One aspect of the show has participants think about if an object brings joy to their lives, and if not thank it for its service and let it go. For me, this idea expresses how I feel about tasks, commitments, and obligations. A few months ago I found myself completely overwhelmed with all of the commitments I had taken on in my life. A full time job as a teacher, owning a yoga studio, creating and conducting teacher training programs, a two year mindfulness certification program, and a contract to generate paid content for a clothing company had finally taken its toll. I had to have a six week conversation with myself and ask, what does and does not spark joy? The answer came back that my involvement on social media as a content generator had ceased to bring joy to my life. The self induced pressure to constantly out perform my previous content and “stay relevant” had exhausted me. So I thanked my Instagram account for its service and I let it go. The effect on me was immediate. I started sleeping better. I was more present for my family and friends. I adopted a puppy and was 100% present to take care of her and deal with all the trials of puppy-hood. I then began to notice my creativity return. I started caring for myself. I took naps, got facials, and joined a gym. By creating space and letting go of things that did not serve me, I was able to find room for things that did spark joy.
There was a small part of me that was resistant. The mind fears change. One challenge for me was the self induced shame of having to admit that I could not do it all without taking steps to rest, replenish, and prioritize. Even though I felt immediate benefits, I had to constantly check in with myself and even my trusted friends for reassurance. Was I ok? Was I missing out? In the end, I had to do some serious work and clean out my commitment closet. I had to decide to only make room for what made me happy. Sometimes I needed friends to help me with the heavy lifting, but in the end the satisfaction was real. I felt a profound sense of peace for taking charge of my life.
Sound familiar? Many of us are guilty of pushing through and over scheduling ourselves just to prove that WE CAN DO IT! When we try and slow down our inner critic berates us for simplifying our lives in a way it would never do for cleaning out our closets. But let me ask you, does going to that baby shower when you are exhausted spark joy? How about taking on that additional project at work? Can we begin to make it a daily habit to clear little spaces for ourselves every day? Can we express gratitude for creating the option to opt out? Can we remove judgement and have a sense of curiosity about what might bloom in the spaces we have made? I’m in to find out, how about you?