We want to take a brief trip back down memory lane. Not a far stroll, just a week ago, when we were talking about Marie Kondo and tidying up spaces. Here’s a super brief recap: Marie Kondo is a professional tidier who follows a simple and strict mantra: only surround yourself with things that spark joy. If they don’t spark joy, thank them for their service.
The last time we talked about Ms. Kondo, it was about the tidying part of her philosophy. Now, we want to talk about the ‘Joy.’
Joy is different from happiness, Ingrid Fetell Lee tells us in her excellent TED Talk. Joy is an intense moment of positive emotion, the kind that makes you want to literally jump up and down. Happiness, she says, is slightly different: it measures contentedness over a longer period of time.
In short, Joy is momentary. Happiness lasts longer.
“As a culture, we are obsessed with the Pursuit of Happiness,” Ms. Lee tells us. “But in the process, we kind of overlook joy.”
It can be challenging to link physical objects with something that is very not-physical, like feelings. Yet, that’s something that Marie Kondo asks us to do all the time: “Does this bring me joy?” If the answer is “no,” then think about getting it out of your space. Life is too short to surround yourself with things that don’t bring you joy.
From an Early Childhood Education perspective, though, Ms. Kondo’s approach is troublesome. Her approach relies on personal relationships with those physical objects: ‘these pants look good on me,’ or, ‘this was the trinket or doodad I bought on a family trip to Florida.’ But at Today’s Family, we encourage children to leave those objects at home, because children are children, and accidents can happen: things get broken, things get lost.
It’s not that we are trying to stifle joy, it’s that we look for it in different places.
Ms. Lee says that there are physical things that seem to universally bring joy: things like cherry blossoms, fireworks, ice cream cones with sprinkles. Now, obviously you can’t light fireworks off inside one of our Centre programs, so the question is: what is it about these things that embodies joy, and how can we build those feelings in our programs?
Well, we like our bright colours, which are joyful. We like patterns, and round shapes, and lots and lots of things. And we fill our spaces with them. This wasn’t a conscious decision; instead, we just followed what made us feel joy.
By definition, joy is fleeting. But, just like how you feel pretty happy when you see a puppy but you feel really, really, REALLY happy when you see a litter of puppies, singular experiences can add up to make something more lasting, and bigger than the sum of the parts.
When we create an environment that fosters joy, we create one that children naturally want to come to and explore. We create an environment that more comfortably eases the transition between your home and the Outside World.
When we focus on building joy, everybody wins.