Tidying Up Our Mental Health

by: Cris Corzine-McCloskey

I watched my first episode of Tidying Up with Marie Kondo last night. For those of you who don’t know, Ms. Kondo is a pint-sized Asian bundle of serenity that specializes in helping people de-clutter their homes. For a tiny thing, she’s making a big impact on pop culture. After watching her program, I can see why. She is irresistible with her sweet spirit and simple approach. According to Ms. Kondo, something in your home does not “spark joy,” get rid of it.

This is how it works. The first thing Ms. Kondo does before starting her de-cluttering process is to have the family honor and thank their home for being a place of safety and security. In that simple gesture, she reminds people of the good things they have been given. Next, she has them empty the contents of their closets and drawers, place it all in a huge pile, then go through the collection, one item at a time. If the article “sparks joy,” it is allowed to stay. If it does not, she has the person thank the item, then put it in the discard pile.

We could think of our mind as the home of our personality and emotional well being. But, just like our physical homes become messy and cluttered, sometimes things begin to accumulate in our mind, as well. Memories of great days, like weddings and births, are soon crowded out by the hurt and pain of everyday living. We collect worries, offenses, grudges, resentments, and negativity like they are things to be treasured. As these things build up, our mind becomes full of junk. If you need a visual just imagine an episode of Hoarders. Yep, most of us have Hoarded House Brain. Add in some trauma and heartbreak, and your messy, hoarded house becomes haunted.

Like the junk we accumulate at home because we think we may have a use for it someday, our mind believes all the yucky clutter it accumulates has a purpose. We hold on to grudges because the person who hurt us “doesn’t deserve to be forgiven.” We worry because we think we are helping to control outcomes. We get offended because we believe it keeps us safe. If we hold those defenses high, we won’t get hurt. Put in black and white, you can see how ludicrous it all is. If you had all of this junk in a pile in the middle of a room, not a single item in that pile would “spark joy.” So, in the tradition of Ms. Kondo, what do we do with items that don’t spark joy? We kick that crud to the curb!!

I know, I know, easier said than done. No one wants Haunted Hoarder House Brain, it just happens. And once the stuff gets in our head, it is not easy to get out. Next week I am going to do my best Ms. Kondo imitation so you will have your own tools to conquer the toxic clutter in your head.

Until then, I will leave you with your first tool. It comes straight out of the Bible because as revolutionary as Ms. Kondo’s ideas are, God thought of them first. He says, if you want to feel peaceful, “Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise (Philippians 4:8).” I promise you, as your mind touches on the items in your life that fit into those categories, you will definitely be sparking some joy!