Helping Students “Marie Kondo” Their Lives

If you haven’t heard of Marie Kondo, please make sure you’re not living under a rock. Not living under a rock but still don’t know who she is? Marie Kondo is the famous guru who helps us “declutter” our lives by going through every item we own, physically holding it, and deciding whether or not it “sparks joy” in us.  If it gives us joy, keep it, and if not, toss it.

This whole method of simplifying our lives has become a worldwide sensation, but the concepts aren’t exactly new to our prevention programs. In fact, we’ve been using the same method as Marie Kondo for quite some time.

In elementary school, we help students work through what can seem like a clutter of feelings. We teach them to identify, normalize and express their feelings in healthy ways. We help them sift through social skills to find ones that will spark joy, but also create lasting friendships.

In middle school, students are trying to wade through the clutter of outside influences and figure out who and what to listen to. We teach them how to sort through those influences to make positive choices.  We also help them declutter the negative, self-doubting voices in their heads and remind them that they are unique, special and valuable.

In high school, students’ brains are cluttered with information (and misinformation) about alcohol and other drugs. They sometimes choose to discard an ugly truth in order to keep a more attractive myth.  We help them go through the pile of information, piece by piece, getting rid of inaccuracies and holding on to scientific facts.

Using substances like alcohol and other drugs will almost certainly spark a short-lived joy of sorts. But in prevention, our goal is to produce more than sparks. Our goal is to help students find the path to long-term success and happiness.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go clean out my closet….


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