Can a Spring Clean Lead to Greater Happiness?
Thankfully spring has sprung and we’re starting to see the end of winter. I often feel like I’m coming out of hibernation at this time of year and am ready to start afresh. I itch to spring clean my home, open doors and windows to let fresh air in and the stagnant energy out, plant new flowers on the patio and put away my winter woollies and resurrect my summer wardrobe.
But can my annual ‘spring clean’ lead to more happiness?
Recently I read Marie Kondo’s book ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing’, the best-seller that every second person and magazine is talking about.
Marie’s premise is to examine all your possessions and ask yourself do they spark joy. If they don’t, you get rid of them. Everything that is left should have a proper home so you should never have to tidy. She is very systematic about the order you do things starting with clothes then books, then papers and so on.
I definitely believe, for me, that outer order leads to inner calm. I’ve noticed that a low level of anxiety can creep up on me when I’m around clutter. Marie says that clutter is caused by a failure to return things to where they belong. Obviously I would feel better if I de-cluttered my space and gave everything a home and got into the habit of returning everything to its rightful home when I’ve finished with it. So a spring clean is definitely in order.
The book got me thinking about my possessions and why I actually have them and the two biggest take-aways have gone beyond the realm of my spring clean of possessions:
The first take-away is to ask does it spark joy. Such as simple question to ask. The answer of which should come from a feeling in your heart rather than the head. I’ve not only started asking myself the question when it comes to my possessions, but I also ask myself the question when it comes to making purchases and when it comes to doing things in my life. It’s made me have a think about what actually does spark joy and happiness in my life and to look for ways of doing more or having more of those things that spark joy!
The second take-away is with regards hanging onto things out of guilt or obligation. Marie says: “think carefully about its true purpose in your life. That necklace you loved in the store but never wear, served its purpose of giving you a thrill when you bought it. The hideous vase your aunt gave you as a wedding gift has done its job of conveying your aunt’s love and good wishes for you. It’s okay to let it go now”.
I really loved this as you are basically giving yourself permission to let things go. You acknowledge what their purpose was, thank them and then let them go. Again, I feel this can be applied to things outside the realm of possessions. I’m looking at people in my life and questioning why that person is in my life. Do they drain my energy? Is the friendship passed its sell by date? What about the experiences and activities that make up my days? What do I do out of obligation or guilt? What can I let go of?
So without the physical clutter and the possessions/relationships/experiences that suck my energy, it leaves space for the things, relationships and experiences that do spark joy and bring happiness.
Can you imagine coming home to a space that just lit you up? That rather than having the ‘I’ve nothing to wear’ feeling as you stare at a wardrobe bursting with clothes, you have a wardrobe of clothes that make you feel fabulous? That all your relationships filled you up with happiness and that your days were full of things you enjoyed doing?
Sounds very appealing. While I realise it won’t happen overnight, it’s definitely food for thought. I think if I keep asking myself ‘does this spark joy’, I’ll tune in to myself and learn what is working for me and what isn’t. And that awareness is the first step in that life changing magic. In the meantime, I’ll start tackling those winter woolies!
Who knew that a spring clean could be so beneficial!