Thoughts that Spark Joy
Choosing our thoughts is really like organizing our junk drawer. What? I know that sounds kind of funny. But it is totally true. Years ago, I read a book called “The Magical Art of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo. She taught a beautiful way of organizing your home and life. Her KonMari Method is focused on evaluating each item and determining whether or not it sparks joy. If something sparks joy it adds value to your life, it brings about good feelings, or it is useful. If an item doesn’t spark joy, she advises that you acknowledge and thank that item for contributing to your life, before letting it go.
When it comes to our thoughts, at least for me, I sometimes find that my brain has kind of become the junk drawer for thoughts sometimes. I have lots of inherited or hand-me down thoughts from my parents or other adults from when I was a kid. Like the thought “You have to clean your plate after every meal.” I have thoughts that I have outgrown and have started to feel really tight and constricting. These thoughts may have worked well for me as a young mom. Like the thought “I need to push my kids to do well in school.” But now as a mother of teenagers, I may have gained new insight and wisdom that I really want to implement, but all of these seem to be lost amidst the junk thoughts that I have collected over time.
Organizing our thoughts, clearing out the ones that have served you at one time but might not be serving you anymore can be a powerful way to move forward in your parenting. Here are some helpful tips for figuring out how to KonMari your thoughts and finding thoughts that spark joy.
- Take some time to get your thoughts out on paper. Dump them out. Write out how you are feeling, what you are thinking. Then take some time to look at them.
- Decide what thoughts you want to keep, what ones are useful and serving you, what ones spark joy or feel motivating. What are new thoughts you want to put in place? What thoughts feel better for you right now in your life? What thoughts spark joy?
- Then acknowledge your old thoughts as having served you well, for a time. Then let them go. (I recognize this would be easier if our thoughts were tangible objects, because we could literally throw them away, or send them to Good Will). But there is a lot of power in recognizing you are done with a thought, thanking it and letting it go.
- Then write down what your new thoughts are going to be. Put them where you can see them. I sometimes put them on my bathroom mirror, or on a note card or post it in my wallet.
Here’s what that might look like:
Thought Dump: My son isn’t doing what the other kids his age are doing. He isn’t in sports or doing well in school. I am worried that he isn’t who he should be. I don’t feel connected to him. I love this kid so much.
Keeper Thought: I love this kid so much.
Thanking my thoughts: I can acknowledge that these other thoughts may have served me for a while. It felt like it might be motivating at the time to try and help him become a good human. But I realize now another thought could serve me better.
Spark Joy Thought: What I want to think now is that he is on his own journey. He is going to struggle and make mistakes, but that will help him to grow and become his own person. I love this kid so much and can’t wait to see what he is going to become.
So, if you are in the mood for a little internal organizing, and tidying up, see what happens when you find thoughts that spark joy. I promise you, that thoughts that spark joy feel better, they feel motivating. They feel great. And feeling great helps us to show up as our best selves. Try it and see what you think.