Sparking Joy This Summer

I recently picked up the book, Spark Joy, by Marie Kondo – a guide to minimalism, tidying up your physical space, and choosing to surround yourself only with material things that spark joy. This simple yet powerful concept can be applied to many things in our lives – material goods, relationships, and the ways in which we choose to spend our time.

With an abundance of activities available to us throughout the summer, we can easily feel pulled in many directions and attempt to do it all. Over-commitment can drain us of precious time and energy that could be better funneled toward the things we actually want to cultivate in our lives. The good news is, with a little time and reflection and asking the simple question, “Does this commitment/use of time bring me joy?” we can make some simple changes to our calendar that will have a significant impact on our overall happiness and mental/physical health.

So, where do we start? Take time to look at everything you have committed to on your calendar and sit with the sensations each thing brings up. Does that coffee date with a distant friend bring joy or anxiety? How about the long anticipated road trip with the family? The goal of this reflective method is not to avoid any situation in which you may experience anxiety or discomfort – we grow in situations that challenge us. However, that’s why this mindful and reflective method can have such a radical impact. It challenges us to keep not what just is “necessary” or “useful,” but only what brings us joy. It’s definitely a hard thing to do and you have to get real with yourself. For me, I find that looking at my commitments from this zoomed out lens helps tremendously in seeing my energy input and output and empowers me to say no to that which ultimately doesn’t bring me happiness.

But what about our “must-do” tasks? For example, a trip to the DMV – “necessary” but dreaded. Reflecting with the question of what brings joy in mind, we can see that while going through the DMV process may be draining or frustrating, ultimately, maintaining a functioning car and license allows us to traverse the city and take on summer trips – and that certainly brings joy to our lives. Perhaps this is a stretch, but it makes for a thought-provoking and enlightening exercise and helps us to put into perspective where our time and energy go.

To me, summertime is all about slowing down, being carefree, adventure, and general enjoyment. What better time than now to reflect and choose joy for yourself each and every day?