Friday, May 13, 2016

Tidying Up the Mind?

I haven’t read it, but this post is inspired by what I have read/heard about Marie Kondo’s “the life changing magic of tidying up.” My understanding of the core of her message goes like this: In determining whether to keep or get rid of some item you own, hold it in your hand, ask yourself if it “sparks joy,” and then keep it if it does.

This morning, I was thinking about what it would mean to apply Kondo’s method to mental objects, such as memories and emotions. Wouldn’t it be healthier to stop torturing myself with certain (apparently) unproductive emotions or with nagging memories?

Quickly I realized something about joy. Joy is something I’ve struggled with, as a concept (probably also as an experience), specifically in my desire to understand how it relates to other terms like pleasure, happiness, satisfaction, and meaning. In thinking about tidying up the mind and tossing out “the bad stuff,” I realized that joy is contextual. My experiences of joy always occur within the larger context of my life, within the context of my struggles, failures, and regrets-- not as contrasts, but as foundations.

I have plenty of memories that spark anything but joy; but, for the experiences that do spark joy, those other ones are the kindling.

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