Ever since Marie Kondo launched her Netflix show in the beginning of the year, people have been rummaging through their closets and dropping off bags and bags of items that no longer spark them joy at various Goodwill locations. While I appreciate tidiness and getting rid of clutter, not to mention that I’ve been using the Marie Kondo method for folding clothes for 8 or 9 years, it got me thinking whether her method could be applied to people too.

Lavinia Lumezanu

Now let’s get one thing straight. Not everything that you keep must spark joy. Some things are purely functional. Like the pots and pans I have in my house – they don’t particularly spark any joy, but the food that I cook in them and sharing that food with my loved ones really sparks a lot of joy. Same thing with people. Maybe you have a coworker who doesn’t particularly spark joy or maybe even the work you do doesn’t spark a lot of joy, but it facilitates other things that spark joy for you. For example, years ago I use to have this manager that was one of those people who’s always unhappy and always complaining about things and people or blaming people for their mistakes. That in itself didn’t bring me joy, but at the same time, I had really amazing coworkers who made every day fun and productive and the salary was pretty good, which in turn allowed me to do other things in my life that sparked joy.

However when it comes to friends, acquaintances and whom you choose in your life on a daily basis, the situation is quite different. We allow “friends” in our lives that not only not spark joy, but they actually take joy away from our lives and create a toxic environment, we allow ourselves to be in relationships that we’ve outgrown for years, relationships that don’t fit our personality, our desires, our live, yet we throw away a jacket because it’s outdated or because it doesn’t spark joy.

I remember about a year ago, I was interviewing Lauren Zander from the Handel Group for an article and she asked me to write down in extensive detail the things I want from my life partner, the kind of relationship I want with my family and my friends. It was the first step out of an exercise she does with her clients that gets them to declutter their lives of toxic people and beliefs and get down to what really sparks joy in their lives.

Just think about what would happen though if we chose the people in our lives as carefully as we choose a pair of boots? Do they fit me? Do they make my feet hurt? Do they match my style? Are they good quality? Are they a good value for the price? Can I afford them? 

How come we ask inanimate objects to bring us joy in order to earn a spot in our lives, but we don’t demand that of people?