how I used “Spark Joy” to get myself out of my intellectual dark age

It’s been only a few years ago since I was still stuck in a dark age of my mind. I knew I had interesting ideas I wanted to explore, but didn’t know how to nurture.

Today, the tables are turned. 

I know how my brain feels when it finds new ideas. I’m able to capture and grow them over time, like a nursery. I’m able to connect the dots between ideas, building an every-growing web of knowledge.

What changed was that I became a better thinker through personal knowledge management (PKM).

But until recently, my implementation of PKM was very poor.

What changed? 

My capacity to listen deeply within myself for sparks of joy.

Use Marie Kondo’s “Spark Joy” to find what you like – fast

Pick up an object and see if it sparks any joy in you. That’s how fast you can start understanding yourself and your preferences. The idea assumes that while your mind will keep on negotiating with itself, you can directly tap into your true feelings about something by listening closely for sparks of joy.

I use this technique to understand what my true interests are.

For example, I knew I was passionate about cities, but I didn’t really know why. Only after reading tons of material on cities and noticing what I liked did I discover my more specific obsession: what makes cities good for our souls, and how to establish an urban planning mandate around this? 

In my experience, sparks don’t lie. 

Build your PKM using Spark Joy

Use Spark Joy throughout the process of building your PKM to understand whether something is working or not for your neurologically-unique mind.

Realize that you’re embarking on a very personal journey. One where you’re trying to build a system based on your unique mind and circumstances.

Apps, workflows, themes, naming conventions…. things that seem to fit others perfectly might not fit you. Use the change rooms liberally until you find something that sparks joy in you.

Once you do, cling to it like gold, and keep on building on it.

Be aware of another sensation – resistance – which signals to you that something is taking a lot of work to do. Be the judge of whether it’s good work (thinking hard about an idea) or overhead work (deliberating hard about which folder to save something in).

Spark Joy has helped calibrate my sensibilities to find good ideas and develop good systems that work for me. It’s the equivalent of teaching someone how to ride a bike – it is a skill that cannot be given. The skill must be earned by each individual. But, once learned, it’s hard to forget.

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Original title: How I used “Spark Joy” to get myself out of my intellectual dark age and build a PKM that works for my brain.

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