How to Harness Your Identity and Tidy Your Home for More Joy!

June 18, 2019 by University District

Love Calgary KonMari Practitioner Helen Youn’s Art of Organization


It’s undeniable that our modern industrial world has blessed us with many things — literally! No matter how conscious and conscientious we are, preventing stuff from entering our lives and our homes presents a struggle to maintain neatness. Clutter-free living is possible with a fresh perspective and some tidying tips from the pros!


Once on a cleaning-and-tidying mission, we may instinctively respond with a desire to rid items that do not serve us anymore — a childhood Scrabble game, high-waisted Levis, a copper plant pot inherited from grandma — which makes so much sense on the surface. If you have too much stuff, out with the old! However, when we spoke with local certified KonMari consultant Helen Youn, we found out that the instinct to delete and purge may not be the best way to start tidying your life.


“This process is not about getting organized, rather it’s about finding more joy in life,” Helen told us. “When you feel like your home is a little out of order, generally people are looking for things they no longer need, whereas we say don’t think about what you’re throwing away, but think about what you actually want to keep.


Sound counterintuitive? Maybe! But join us and see how we can tie the whole concept together, shall we?


Photo Credit: Helen Youn


KonMari isn’t the only way to streamline your life. Downsizing your space may help you make some decisions in a similar vein. Take a look here


KonMari: The Roots


Let’s start from the beginning. For many people, they may have been introduced to KonMari indirectly through a Netflix special that popped up on many screens a few months ago. When Tidying Up with Marie Kondo debuted, her distinctive philosophy of sparking joy in the objects around you started to gain traction.  That journey took her many years of mastering the art of organization. Now, her school of thought on tidiness is named after her (Marie Kondo – Kon Mari), and consultants around the world are embracing the power of those ideas. Helen shared some of the roots of Marie Kondo’s story when we spoke.


“Marie Kondo grew up in Japan, and was obsessed with organizing ever since she was a kid, then reached a point where she asked herself ‘Why am I always organizing? If I’m so into organizing shouldn’t my space be organized already?’ The story goes that she was organizing and tidying and going all out, and she was so frustrated that she passed out. When she woke up, she felt like a voice spoke to her and she made this realization that she’d been doing it wrong the whole time. She realized she’d been focusing on choosing what to discard rather than choosing what to keep.”


There it is again! “What to keep?” How can we get rid of stuff if we are focusing on keeping things? This critical change was a big focus of our conversation and Helen gave us some informative examples to help illustrate that point.


“If you were cleaning out your closet and you took out what you no longer wear, then maybe you would just grab the most obvious stuff, like things that are broken, or things that are gifted but the designs are hideous, or something you got so long ago that you haven’t worn it in years. But that doesn’t let you look at your things with certainty. Whereas when we use the KonMari method, we take out ALL the clothes from your closet, then tell people to choose what they’re keeping, the decision becomes different and people choose what they care about.”


Photo Credit: Helen Youn


Finding — and Sparking — Your Own, Personal Joy


The catchphrase to take away from KonMari or Marie Kondo or even Helen Youn is “sparking joy,” but it’s an easy one to take for granted. It sounds so earnest and carefree that it may come across as too simple. After speaking to Helen it’s clear that to focus on joy is simply the easiest way to communicate the core difference between KonMari and “conventional” thinking about how to organize.


Take the method Helen told us about earlier, to clean closets. Rather than taking out what clearly doesn’t work for you anymore, take out ALL the things and start to think critically not about why NOT to keep it, which is a negative “minus” type mentality, but rather why you SHOULD keep it.


“I think too many times when people are looking at things, people are worried about other aspects,” Helen shared with us. “Things like how much money they spent, or if someone will be upset if they throw something away, or obligation, or fear like “what if I need this one day”. With KonMari we advocate focusing on the now, like “this is the item that brings me joy right now, I really love it, I want to keep it.”


It’s easy to see why there is success to be had with that idea. When fully embraced, KonMari is not just a strategy, it almost feels like a positive philosophy. If people truly think about the ways that the things around them spark joy in their lives, then they are automatically reorienting their brains towards their best possible life.


Putting things aside! Here’s a throwback to local ways to spark joy and excitement into your life. Whether you’re emtpy-nesters in search of new adventures, or looking for a fun day with family and friends, our Northwest Community is close to some of our city’s most exhilarating activities. Check out our top-five bucket list things to do this summer


Photo Credit: Helen Youn


Upside Down and Inside Out: The Paradox of Sparking Joy


It’s easy to get wrapped up in the obstacles and matters we want to fix to lead our best lives! Sometimes we forget to think about what our ideal life really looks like.


Helen shared one of her tactics: “The first thing I do with my clients is sit down and talk about what they enjoy doing, what they want to do more of, what is in their life that will bring them the most joy. At the end of the day, people are creating a house to support that vision.”


“Before you start tidying, think about ‘What is the life that will bring the most joy’?” she continued. “A lot of the times people are so stressed about their home that they can’t imagine what they’re going to do!  Spending all their time stressing about it instead of taking action!. After you go through this method, your house is going to be complete and everything is going to spark joy! So what are you going to do with that time? Have a clear picture of what you’ll do with your time will really help with the process.”


So really, it seems like KonMari is about finding the inner core of who you are and what you want to do, which really does seem like a philosophy.


If someone can picture their ideal life, they have fresh meaning and intention to build a future around. This helps decide which objects in our homes are actually important. The ideas Helen and Marie put forward buck impulse and strip everything away so that we can build a life made up of what we truly care about. Scrabble anyone?!


For other thoughts on modern home design, check out our interview with local design expert Ana Cummings. She reveals how you can create a healthy, vibrant home that strikes the right chord with great taste and sustainable design. 


Photo Credit: Helen Youn


A Quick KonMari How-To Guide


If you want to begin embracing KonMari day to day before taking a full KonMari journey, Helen gave us some advice on personal steps everyone around University District can start taking today!


  • Have a look at Helen Youn’s KonMari checklist. There are five categories KonMari breaks your home’s items into — this is like a cheat sheet of the purging and analysis from easiest to hardest. Without doing a full tidying day with Helen, you could still gather all of one category and figure out which items actually make you happy!


  • Don’t work room by room while tidying up, use the categories in the checklist. If you can gather all your clothing into one place and really work through every single piece, you’ll be left with all your best clothes and a pile of so-so pieces.


  • Envision your best life to make your decisions. Just like Helen’s first meeting, you can define your home’s personality with your own goals — do you want to create art? Or host friends on a regular basis? Whatever you see in your future, make decisions about the belongings in your home — and what you bring home — based on that vision.


Do you have any organizational tips or suggestions? Share them with us on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.


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