"You can afford to be selective. It is time to choose yourself."
Marie Kondo has gained popularity because of her approach to decluttering. One of her famous phrases is “keep only what sparks joy in you.” I have seen a few episodes of her show on Netflix and I must say that her method of putting order in one’s messy home is simple to grasp.
One thing I like about her approach is she leaves the decision on what to keep and what to let go to you. This is so unlike other decluttering shows where viewers see how the hosts almost bully homeowners into giving up items important to them. Kondo’s way is to encourage one to decide on what happens to one’s belongings. When one seems unsure, or one is having difficulty, it is when Kondo usually coaxes her clients to choose to keep only items that spark joy in them.
This “keep-what-sparks-joy-in-you” can actually be applied beyond material possessions. It can be also be one’s guiding principle in ‘decluttering’ one’s life especially when one has reached her or his senior years. It is time to discard unimportant, meaningless, and useless things. Baggages should be thrown away. By this time, kids have finished school and many may already have families of their own. By this time, you can afford to be selective. It is time to choose yourself.
Kondo’s principle can apply to relationships. Why keep one that makes you unhappy, unfree, or unloved? Why keep people who affect you negatively? In the first place, why allow negative people into your life? Life is short. Less stress, less tension, less heartache is good. You will have more time to focus on family, friends, and colleagues you love, and who truly love, and care for you. To me, they are the most important.
Kondo’s keep-what-sparks-joy principle can also apply to the things one does. For years, I would usually have three or four things going on simultaneously. I wanted, and still want to make a difference. For several decades, in my desire to pay it forward (for the good things I have received in life despite the humblest of beginnings), I have been involved in many social development programs. My group has helped, and continues to help in advancing women’s rights and welfare.
Needless to say, there were many times when I would accept responsibilities because no one would do them. I would stay up all night at times to meet deadlines or make sure that problems were addressed.
When I turned 60 last year, I made a promise to myself: I will be choosy, and I will now choose myself. I will start unloading responsibilities and only focus on those that spark joy in me. (Naks!) Moreover, I will do more things that I WANT to do and less of those that people say I should do.
Yes, I am decluttering, in more ways than one.
I have started with clothing items. Despite the fact that I unload clothes yearly, there’s a lot still. And I mean a lot. Here, i do not follow Kondo’s process of getting all clothes in one heap before the selection process. I do not have the time to do so I go through my cabinets one by one. So far, I have collected a fairly big number of clothing items to give away, and it will continue to grow.
With the start of the new year, I went back to my daily morning walks. Walking was my regular exercise for years but stopped in the last two or three years. I am rediscovering the joys of walking as I regain my pace and redevelop my stamina.
I only walk around the village where I live. Going around is very interesting because I like seeing old and Filipino-themed houses. I also like looking at plants and trees that are beginning to be forgotten by people. I get excited when I see trees start to bear fruit. In my neighborhood there are still fruit trees—guavas, jackfruit, mangoes, duhat, tiesa, macopa, and at times, I see unknown fruits. Google is a good thing because i get to meet unfamiliar fruit and trees.
Early morning walks enable me to meet people in the village. I have gained a few neighbor-friends and I like it.
I recently met a couple, both significantly older than me. That day, I began my walk thinking about how the day was going to run. It was going to be a busy, full day so I was making a mental note of how I was to spend my hours. Then I saw this couple with whom I have exchanged “good mornings” in the past days. This particular day, however, the pleasant man struck a conversation with me.
The conversation went from how old we all are, where I live, the other neighbors and their “barkadas,” their prayer meetings that turn into what he termed as “green jokes” afterwards, their nine-in-the-morning-till-six-in-the-evening mahjong sessions, to the homeowners association, to how much they bought their lot and how much they spent for building their home in the ’70s (they were after all among the first residents of the village) to many more mundane things.
This conversation started near their home’s gate but they invited us to look, see their plants, their guava trees, and eventually their home. The conversation was punctuated by burst of laughter. I was to have a full day but this conversation took a good two hours of my morning. Ordinarily, I would be worried and stressed because I was off my plan. But this time, I asked myself, “Did meeting the couple spark joy in you?” The answer was, “Absolutely!” So those hours were not wasted. They were precious as they made me feel good and happy. I reminded myself that work can wait and what’s more important is what sparks joy in me.
Beyond getting rid of baggages as we declutter our life, look closely, listen intently, and open yourselves up to possibilities, and you will find things that and people who will spark joy in you. Let the fun begin!
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