Marie Kondo and the Gospel

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marie kondo
via CNN

Netflix doesn’t know me as well as it thinks it does, I thought to myself, rolling my eyes at the screen. Like I need to tidy up, I silently stewed, struggling to see the television over the pile of laundry I’d set on my coffee table.

But then the trailer played and all those hours I’d spent watching HGTV with my DIY-loving stepmother got the best of me. I hit play.

And oh boy, did it suck me in. Word to the wise: “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo” is going to change you… Or at least make you itch to sort out all of your dresser drawers. (Which I did. I’m also proud to report my desk drawer no longer holds year-old coupons and one stray sock… Don’t even ask.)

As I sorted out the miscellaneous items around my house, pondering if that zucchini in the fridge was really sparking joy in my life, something became clear to me: Marie’s advice can totally be looked at from a gospel perspective. Not just in a “My house is a house of order” kind of way (which is important, don’t get me wrong), but in trying to make your life more meaningful and Christ-centered.

And it all starts with Marie’s first rule.

1. Commit Yourself to Tidying Up

pretty clean roomLife is SO full of distraction… Just take a peek at the number of hours I’ve spent playing Bejewled-themed games on my phone and you’ll see exactly what I mean.

Those distractions can be relaxing and helpful for unwinding when necessary — but they can also get in the way of doing things we actually need to do; things that are truly beneficial and worthwhile. But most of the time, they’re fun and addictive. They’re hard to put down even when you have something more important to do!

So when it comes to Marie’s first rule, I think we can apply it toward ridding unnecessary distractions from our lives. “Am I really committed to eliminating distraction? To decluttering my mind and life from things that don’t serve me or others positively?”

If yes, proceed to rule #2.

2. Imagine Your Ideal Lifestyle

Honestly, I think this step is the most important. It’s the one that will get you through the rest of the steps because it’s essentially your motivation. What kind of person do you want to be? Do you want your life to be more gospel-centered? Do you want to have a better relationship with the Savior?

What is your ideal YOU? When this whole process is over, how do you want your life to be different? How do you want to be different?

Keep that ideal lifestyle in your head (or better yet, write it down!) as you move forward. Whenever you stumble or struggle, remember the person you want to be and hold on to that. Don’t give up your longtime or eternal wants for what you want right now.

3. Finish Discarding First

trash recyclingThis step relates back to #1, but there’s a key difference: #1 was all about committing to get rid of distractions—but this step is actually doing it.

What are some of the distractions in your life that keep you from living the lifestyle you want? For me, it’s trivial things like sleeping too long, playing too many games on my phone, etc. While sleeping and playing games aren’t bad, they (like everything in life) need to be met with moderation; they shouldn’t take the place of other important things.

So get rid of the distractions that keep you from realizing your goals! (Or, as in the case of playing games, figure out a healthy way to limit your time spent on these activities.) It will be difficult, but the result (you achieving your ideal lifestyle) will make the struggles completely worth it.

4. Tidy by category, not by location.

clothingAs I watched Tidying Up, this quickly became one of my favorite steps. Whenever I clean, I go by room — bedroom first, then kitchen, and so forth. But Marie’s method is genius — instead of going room to room, tidy by things. For example, when her clients were deciding what clothes to keep, they got ALL of their clothes, regardless of where they were at in the house, and sorted through them. This approach allows you to focus on one thing at a time rather than addressing the same things over and over again as you move to separate rooms.

We can do the same thing in our lives. Trying to change, regardless of how much or how little, can feel overwhelming — especially if you try to tackle everything at once. Say, for instance, that part of your ideal self is someone who reads their scriptures for thirty minutes a day, and says a kneeling prayer both morning and night — but you’re not in the habit of doing either of those things.

Rather than trying to do both of those things at once, focus on one: center your attention on reading your scriptures each day for 5 or 10 minutes (however much won’t overwhelm you to the point that you’ll quit!). Then, once you’ve mastered that, read for 15 minutes, then 20, then 30. Once you’re in the habit of reading 30 minutes a day, tackle saying your kneeling prayers.

When you’re attempting to invoke positive change in your life and develop good habits, remember the wise words of King Benjamin: “And see that all these things are done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength. And again, it is expedient that he should be diligent, that thereby he might win the prize; therefore, all things must be done in order.”

5. Follow the right order.

planningThis step goes hand in hand with #4: when you’re organizing by category, not location, you need to follow the right order. Marie’s order goes clothes, books, paper, miscellaneous items, then sentimental items, our own order may go differently according to what we most prioritize. Our personal order will be according to whatever steps you choose (whatever you think needs the most work), but they might go something like this: prayer, scripture study, Come, Follow Me, Family Home Evening, etc.

Do your best to stick to that order without variance; focusing on one thing at a time will, as mentioned before, help you from feeling overwhelmed.

6. Ask yourself, “Does it spark joy?”

Girl playing with balloons.This one is pretty self-explanatory, but it’s incredibly important. When organizing your lifestyle and attempting to become the person you want to be, ask yourself whether what you’re doing is sparking joy in your life — and whether it will spark eternal joy in the world to come.

Let’s be honest: doing FHE may not always spark joy in your life. When you have a grouchy toddler, a dog that just used the bathroom in the house, and pizza that’s burning in the oven, FHE might be the last thing on your mind! Trying to corral everyone and keep them from fighting isn’t always the most joy-inducing experience… But is it going to spark eternal joy in your family? Is it going to help to guide them to where you want them to be?

Yes. Again, don’t give up what you want most for what you want right now! Sparking joy is about more than the here and now; it’s about doing things that help you to become the person you want to be. Certainly, we should try to make activities like scripture study, FHE, and prayer an enjoyable experience (that can be often accomplished with dedicated preparation and a prayer in your heart), know that sparking joy is an eternal quest.

On Tidying Up, when people followed Marie’s rules, they were able to achieve balance and peace in their homes and in their lives. Similarly, as we strive to apply these steps in our lives, we can develop a closer relationship with Jesus Christ — and we can become the people we want to be.

How are you Kondo-izing your life? Leave us your tips and suggestions in the comments!

Amy Keim is the site manager and editor for LDSBlogs.com. She served a full-time mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Denver, Colorado, where she learned to love mountains and despise snow. She has a passion for peanut butter, dancing badly, and most of all, the gospel.