This is the first in a new column series called Living in Harmony where I will explore how to better live in harmony with my fellow man, Mother Earth, my family, and anything that comes my way. Today I’d like to explore living in harmony with our homes, specifically addressing clutter.
I don’t know about you, but I struggle to have the Spirit with me when my house is a mess. It creates so much anxiety that I want to avoid the areas that are piled with stuff, no matter what that stuff may be. I love Christmastime, but dread the inevitable shopping pile that then clutters my house for weeks, or at least until I can get things wrapped and under the tree. Recently I have been watching Marie Kondo’s show on Netflix, Tiding Up With Marie Kondo. And it has taught me so much that I have to share!
Marie is a sweet little Japanese woman who has a unique approach to order. At the beginning of each new project, she introduces herself to the house in a prayer-like manner. This struck me as a brilliant way for us each to begin clearing away our own spiritual or emotional clutter. We are never more unburdened that when we are kneeling before the Lord. So, my first suggestion with bringing your home into harmony is prayer. I pray to have a clear vision of what is necessary or needed and what I can throw away.
I’m not sure about you, but half of my hang-up with clearing out extra stuff is wondering if I will need it again! This prayer puts my heart in line with the Lord so He can help me honestly address this. It makes it easier to be able to say, “No, I won’t need that newel post cap from my old house anymore.” On the other hand, I will very likely need the extra pack of page protectors. When it comes to items that belong to others in the home, they need to be the ones to make the choice to clear things out. It’s a good chance to teach them about eliminating clutter and help them focus on what truly matters to them.
The second thing Marie Kondo does is gather everything of one type together. For example, she has people pile all their clothes onto the bed, emptying drawers and closets. Then she asks them to hold each individual article of clothing to see if their heart loves it (or in her words, if it “sparks joy”). Then, if they decide to let the item go, she asks them to thank it for serving them before putting it into the donation pile. I find that concept of gratitude so beautiful.
The American Indian culture believes that everything has a spirit. That would transfer to each item in your home having its own spirit also, since everything has been made by a tree, shrub, or animal. Expressing gratitude for the service this item gave opens your mind to the real value of things. Once, Marie even mentioned that a shirt you bought and wore once (or never wore) served you because it taught you that you don’t like that kind of shirt—and that was a growing experience.
The Lord has also encouraged us to thank Him for every blessing He gives us. Clothing on our backs, a home to live in, and food to eat are all gifts from God. Expressing thanks will always put us into that thankful frame of mind that reduces waste and brings harmony into the world and home. I found a greater contentment when I removed items from my home with gratitude in my heart.
As Marie Kondo’s method continues, you remove anything from your home that doesn’t spark joy in your heart. The goal going forward is to keep that focus on joy throughout your life, ensuring that future items brought home will also be something you love.
For me, this has helped a lot when it comes to sales. I have been known to buy things because they were so cheap, even when I didn’t really love them or see myself using them often. Now I see what a truly wasteful attitude that was. This new approach, seeking joy, has helped me be more selective when shopping.
Shopping is different for me these days. Now I ask myself if I like it, if I need it, or if it will serve our family in some way. Sometimes the questions are involved enough that I don’t even want to go there, so I pass the sale by easily. Other times, the answers are so clear that I can confidently buy the item and bring it home, knowing that it will spark joy whenever we use it. In either case, I feel I’ve reduced wasteful spending. After all, an item you wear a thousand times is pennies per wear, while an item you wear once, then discard, was expensive indeed.
Share the Joy
Teaching this concept isn’t easy, so I have had my whole family watch Marie Kondo’s Tidying Up with me. My son has even started noticing when we need to be tidying up. He brought me to the TV room the other day for a surprise: he showed me that he had cleaned the whole place up on his own! I love the feeling of knowing I am sharing useful things with my son that can bless his future. I love how a tidy home has brought harmony to my heart and peace to my soul. I know it will help you, too.
There is more that Marie Kondo teaches about tidying up. If you are interested, her show is on Netflix. But in case you don’t subscribe, I found these 10 great tips on YouTube.
Abby is capable and caring. She is learning more about Autism and parenthood every day. Having completed training to be an RBT (Registered Behavior Technician) for ABA therapy she is beginning to understand her son. And even though she is the first to admit she makes a lot of mistakes, she is so grateful to be on this journey. She comes from a family with many autistic members. She invites us to join her, as she shares her adventures. She wishes to emphasize that Autism is a difference not a defect. If you or a family member have autism, Abby wants you to know that the challenges can be overcome, and there are blessings in autism. You or your loved one are not sick or broken. Together we will teach the world this new language.