The joy series, Part 1: Making space for happiness

The joy series, Part 1: Making space for happiness

Outside in

Text: Tracy Phillips

Illustrator: Felicia Yap

In part one of this eight-part series, Tracy Phillips explores the methods of creating space in our immediate environment and shows how they can impact our mental and emotional state

Unless you're experiencing it at this very moment or done some serious introspection on the topic, explaining what makes you feel joyful can be mighty challenging. It's probably easier to think of occasions that don't bring about joy, such as falling ill, or arguing with a friend, or losing something you hold dear. At other times, we can't even explain why we feel down even when nothing has gone wrong; there's just no pep in our step, motivation is stuck in neutral, and the glass is definitely looking half full. You can't just will it away or snap out of it because someone tells you to. In times like these, I'd recommend clearing clutter and making space.

The joy series, Part 1: Making space for happiness (фото 1)

Why is space important?
When we're feeling a bit low or stuck, making space is a way of creating potential for new things to enter into our lives. You can't fit in anything new into a room when it's brimming with stuff and there's no room to move. Likewise, there's no time for new hobbies or relationships when we're feeling bogged down by all that's familiar.  

Sages to pychologists have inferred that our created surroundings are often a reflection of our mental and emotional state. Since mental clutter is a lot harder to identify and clear, working on tidying up our immediate environment by letting go of what no longer serves us can help shift our mood overall. It can prepare us to tackle the deeper levels of emotional and spiritual baggage that we inevitably carry around with us.

The KonMari Method
No one has done more for the decluttering movement in the last few years than best-selling Japanese author and world renowned organising consultant, Marie Kondo. Her book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, has sold over three million copies and her newest book published in January this year, Spark Joy: An Illustrated Guide to the Japanese Art of Tidying is flying off the shelf, too. 

Dubbed the KonMari tidying method, it focuses on what you want to keep, not what you want to get rid of. You do this by gathering everything you own, one category at a time, and then keeping only items which "spark joy". What doesn't make the cut is thanked for its service and given away. As it turns out, it's a surprisingly affective method. Kondo's advice is to start with practical items like clothes before working your way up to more sentimental items like old photos and letters. After experimenting with this method, I felt like my decision-making skills have been honed considerably. What happens when you hold hundreds of your belongings and question their joyful place in your life? You begin to consider your future purchases and find clarity in the things you want to commit to. As Kondo so wisely expounds, "your stuff shouldn't make you long for more stuff. Your stuff should remind you that you have everything you need."

The joy series, Part 1: Making space for happiness (фото 2)

The difference between clutter clearing and space clearing
When you're done Kondo-ing your home, you can consider another method that focuses on shifting the energy of your physical space, a practise known as space clearing. The terms clutter clearing and space clearing are sometimes used interchangeabley, but they actually mean different things.

Space clearing is the art of clearing, balancing and revitalising trapped energies that imprint themselves into the walls, furniture, and objects in the buildings we occupy. The leading world expert on this, Karen Kingston, has pioneered this technique since 1976 and has written two books, Creating Sacred Space with Feng Shui and Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui,  both of which have sold in the millions.  While clutter clearing can be done by anyone, space clearing requires special equipment and techniques that includes clapping, belling and flower offerings.

In Kingston's own words, "space clearing is generally only for people who are ready for major changes in their life." If this sounds like where you're at at the moment, you can consider getting a professional space clearing consultation done or use her book, Creating Sacred Space with Feng Shui, as a manual on how to conduct  your own home or office space clearing ceremony. The 21 step guide covers the ancient theories that her method is based on as well as  some of the science behind it. 

So what is the point of all this space again?
When your physical space is filled with the things you love — all kept in their place — and the energy that surrounds you is dynamic and flowing, it increases the opportunity for more joy to occur. Clearing our heads by clearing out the tangible clutter and organising what's left removes some of the daily stresses and distractions like looking for things, deciding what we want to use or buy, where things should go etc. When the relationship we have with our possessions in put into perspective, our whole perspective changes. By transforming our outer world with vigour and confidence, it gives us the space to begin shifting the deeper, more subtle inner world. 

Stay tuned:
Join us next week for part 2 of The Joy Series — How our diet affects the mind.
Missed last week's installment on the journey to wellbeing? Click here to read it.