What Sparks Joy?

Written by Lisa Yen, NP, NBC-HWC - August 4th, 2019

“Does it spark joy?” This is the central question of the widely popular Kondo organization method from Marie Kondo’s best-selling 2014 book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. This year, the popular Netflix show Tidying Up with Marie Kondo swept the nation with a fresh wave of decluttering. Donation centers overflowed. Social media feeds showed off newly decluttered homes.

Kondo’s famous question, “What sparks joy?” is an exercise in assessing the value of our household belongings in order to let go and get rid of “clutter.” Stuff not only takes up space but also can be mentally distracting and emotionally distressing. If something is no longer serving us, Kondo invites us to take a moment to thank the item for its service, and then let it go. The Konmari method is a gratitude practice that begins with greeting and thanking the house itself upon entering and ends with bidding farewell to things that no longer spark joy. The result of a decluttered home is a freer body, mind, and spirit.

DECLUTTERING & CANCER

With the stress of living with neuroendocrine cancer or caring for someone who does, cleaning out the metaphorical closet might be the last thing we feel like doing. Overwhelmed by doctor’s appointments, scans, monthly injections, researching and learning about the disease, and managing the symptoms, the sheer act of making a decision sometimes feels near-impossible. This is because the diagnosis of cancer or news of recent progression is traumatic. The traumatized mind wants to cling to things that give a sense of stability, structure, and safety, making it exceedingly more difficult to identify and let go of “clutter,” whether that is physical, mental, or emotional.

Other than physical possessions, what else is no longer serving us? What “clutter” might not be serving us? What has become unnecessary “clutter” in our minds and spirits?

A cancer diagnosis provides an opportunity to re-evaluate one’s priorities and let go of commitments that may be less important. Perhaps this might involve releasing time commitments, career ambitions, old habits, or relationships. Or maybe it means letting go of certain pressures and expectations you have of yourself. Letting go of clutter creates space for possibilities that spark joy.

SPARKING JOY

Here are some ideas of ways to explore possibilities that might spark joy in your life:

SPARKING JOY THROUGH COMMUNITY

 In our last blog article, Executive Director Giovanna Joyce Imbesi shared how she found joy by first making friends with change through her journey with NET. By embracing change, she has been able walk through the door of gratitude, find perspective, and share connectedness.

A recently released podcast featured colon cancer survivor Kate Bowler interviewing Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams. Cancer became personal for him when his wife was diagnosed with melanoma about a year ago. In the interview, he emphasizes the importance of community. In fact, a sense of community may even increase life expectancy.

We at LACNETS desire to provide a community of support and education for those with neuroendocrine cancer. We offer a safe place to share our experiences and learn from each other. Community is a wonderful way to explore new possibilities of finding joy. While summer might signify vacation for many, we understand that cancer doesn’t take a vacation. Neither do we! We hope you can join us for our upcoming Summer Gathering!