If you’re like me, a non-Japanese speaker, you probably have never heard this word before and have no idea what it means. But this week I learned that, loosely translated, it means “Does it spark joy?”
And I learned it because of a Wall Street Journal article about Marie Kondo, the queen of tokimeku. She’s written a best-seller, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” that has been all the rage in Japan and is now spreading worldwide, including here in the United States. She’s just 30 years old. (Wow! I barely knew my way around at that age!)
She’s described as a home-organizing guru which is nothing new, at least in this country where we have tons of them. But what is new is her key question: “Does this spark joy?” When she’s hired to help organize and clean, she doesn’t do the organizing or cleaning herself. Instead, she tells her clients to take everything out of a closet or dresser and then has them hold each item, one by one, and asks them, “Does this spark joy?”
It’s a perfect question, one that gets right to the heart of the stuff we have and can’t quite bring ourselves to toss. I used it today to clear out our pantry and filled four (!!!) trash bags full of stuff that no longer sparked joy. A sort of minor miracle. Our pantry looks fabulous now. And much more spacious.
Of course, being a writer meant that I ended up thinking about how this applied to writing as I went through our pantry, shelf by shelf. One of the things I’ve been struggling with lately is social media, as followers of this blog already know. It’s part intimidation, part uncertainty, part unfamiliarity.
But then I asked myself, what sparks joy for me on social media? And what I love is Pinterest, oddly enough. So I’ve created a Pinterest site for my books and research, and had a blast setting them up. And then ended up posting about it on Facebook. And now am blogging about it here. And will tweet about it soon (about Kondo’ing my pantry).
So maybe the lesson learned is not to insistently run up against those elements of social media that are the most intimidating and incomprehensible to us as writers and introverts and non-marketing specialists. That’s rather like banging our heads against a wall and wondering why it hurts. Instead, maybe the secret is to seek where it is that we find joy and then let that be our guide.
Where do you find joy?