How to Cultivate a Positive Home and Life
“Does it spark joy?”
If you’ve become as fascinated with the new Netflix sensation Tidying Up With Marie Kondo as I have, you’ll know exactly what that sentence means. In the show, the incredibly likable Marie Kondo and her attentive interpreter Marie Iida help average Americans refresh their lives through the act of culling and organizing their homes using her KonMari method. The show, an interesting successor to her 2014 book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, isn’t just about organizing. The question of “Does it spark joy?” evokes a sense of intentionality, of being conscious of how you create your home, in order to achieve a higher level of life satisfaction. In other words, a form of living mindfully. In this blog post, I’ll be exploring a few simple ways to spark a bit more joy in our lives and homes.
What sparks joy in my life? And when was the last time I did it? Are there any barriers in my way? What is holding me back from being more joyful? Questions like these ultimately arise when taking a step toward mindful living. Days or weeks can often go by without us feeling in control of our own time. Our schedules get filled up, and with the first bing on our phone, the wish to be more intentional about our lives is forgotten. To overcome this problem, the key is to schedule it. As my favorite productivity guru Michael Hyatt says, “What gets scheduled gets done.” Write it into your planner, schedule a reminder on your phone (I know, another notification… but this one is for a good reason!). Hold that time sacred. Don’t let anything else encroach on it, even enticing social invitations.
I myself have put these words of advice into practice by creating a morning routine for weekdays. I found myself wanting to incorporate yoga into my life, but I never actually felt like doing it. I wanted to do meditation more regularly, but never remembered until I was going to bed at the end of the day. Voilà, pairing yoga and meditation together have become my morning routine. I wrote them down, scheduled them, and even just recently started keeping a habit tracker to hold myself accountable. I’m not perfect 100% of the time, but these proactive steps have helped me cultivate this routine into my day. And I find that it does in fact spark joy!
Cultivating a Positive Home
Your home is one of the most important domains in your life. It’s where you are sheltered from the noise and chaos of the world, where you can fully relax and be yourself. The things you have are a part of your home, which is an extension of yourself. In order to cultivate a positive home, many of your things should give you a happy feeling when they come into your view. That is the definition of a home with good vibes… as least in my world.
Consider these questions: Does your home spark joy? Does it emote good vibes to you, your family, and your guests? Take a look around and give it a good think.
I’m not here to promote lavish materialism. In fact, I believe the research that says spending money on experiences more than things will bring you more life satisfaction. I’ve been there. I’ve spent my hard-earned money traveling to many countries. I’ve also spent money on a designer bag. Guess which purchase is still positively impacting my life today, and will continue to for my entire lifetime?
The things in your home don’t have to be luxurious to spark joy. An example of this is my collection of coffee mugs. I don’t have any two that match. Rather, my collection is full of unique mugs that each have a special meaning to me. One is handmade with a celadon lavender-colored glaze which I bought while living in South Korea. It always brings me a little spark of joy when I use it because the memories of my expat life come flowing back into my mind while I sip my warm drink. I also have a wide cappuccino style mug that is a neutral color. My mom and I made it together when I was a kid, in our basement a pottery studio. She says that I made it, but I know that she really did. My name is signed on the bottom in her handwriting, and I just love the warm memories that come to me whenever I use that mug.
In order to have a home filled with things that spark joy, you must have an emotional connection or association with the item. This may sound too woo-woo for you, but think about it: we all are drawn to certain colors, patterns, shapes for a reason. Because they are attractive to us. Simply put, they make us happy, or they remind us of warm memories. If your home environment is full of beige and plain items, is that because they spark joy for you? Or perhaps because you haven’t given it much thought until now?
Art in the Home
The reason the arts have survived throughout the centuries is because they hold a significant importance to us.
Art has the power to provoke thought, to show us our history, and to evoke emotion.
Some are drawn to art that is grotesque, figurative, or nature-inspired. We all have different tastes because we have all lived different lives. A certain color or pattern can bring up an association in our minds that is totally unique to the individual, just like a fingerprint.
Having art in your environment that evokes something within you is the key to cultivating a positive home. Is your home filled with art that sparks joy or that you associate with a positive experience? If you fill your home with artwork that is beautiful to you, the positive energy of those things will stay with you daily.
The First Step to More Joy
By taking the first step to find what sparks joy in your life, you will be entering the realm of mindful living. Be intentional about how you spend your time and with what you surround yourself with. These are intentional acts that you can take to cultivate a positive home and life.
Imagine if your life was filled with a bit more joy…
You realize you aren’t as irritable because you’ve consistently made time for your favorite activity. You have more patience and enjoy more awareness of what’s good in your life.
You are filled with a sense of peace from the beautiful painting hanging above your bed. Your bedroom is now a peaceful sanctuary, infused with the calming aesthetic of the one-of-a-kind artwork. You feel a small spark of joy each time you walk into the room.
You are warmed by feelings of maternal love when you drink from the mug that your mom made while teaching you how to throw clay on the pottery wheel.