A Most Serious Matter
Your health and happiness are not to be taken lightly
I was walking the aisles of a Portland area Barnes and Noble yesterday. I used to work in those stores at the turn of the millennium. Something became quickly apparent as I scanned the shelves yesterday. Where once we had the 9/11 Commision Report and tables full of arguments from the right and left on shaping a better country, we now have tables full of books helping us to better ourselves.
It’s not a political commentary. It’s an observation. If you were to remove the kids toys and books, and if you pulled out the young adult shelves and the rows of fiction, lit, mystery, sci-fi, and romance, you would be left largely with a self-help bookstore. It doesn’t matter if the section was titled religious studies or psychology, it’s largely advice on living a better, happier life. The same is true of the business sections, memoirs, and even parenting books. Instead of books on raising happy kiddos, we now have a plethora of titles about how to be the cool parent, the nerdy parent, or the working parent.
This was always true, even fifty or sixty years ago, but it does seem to have grown in our age of self-awareness and in our growing awareness of the success or failures of those around us. As unsurprising as this revelation may be to those of you who have visited a bookstore lately, I did notice one seemingly underrepresented area. Where are the books on instilling happiness by simply doing the things required for a healthy life?
In a world full of quick fixes, we too often overlook the tried and true methods we already have for instilling a sense of peace, of calm, of joy. Has there ever been a book written about the joys of reorganizing your home or office? Or of the pleasure in watching a junk hauling company carry away years of clutter and waste?
It’s with this recent trip to the bookstore in mind that we suggest a look not inside your soul or your ego, but inside your closet or garage. What is easier to clean up, the tangle of emotions we carry around inside, or the tangled-up boxes of cords, christmas lights, and old sports ribbons?
Believe it or not, cleaning and organizing can have a profound impact on your health and your well-being, and if it’s done well, it can even inspire others to follow suit. When we find ourselves in busy, cluttered spaces, we feel more anxious and stressed. Isn’t there enough in this world that is making us feel anxious? Why do we let things pile up and impact us so negatively? Maybe it’s because we do not realize the damage our clutter does to our minds.
Sure, it’s oftly simple, but as Occam’s razor says, the obvious and simple are the most likely culprits. Perhaps that is why there is a dearth of books explaining that happiness is only a vacuuming and a trip to the dump away.
It won’t always be that easy. There are times you need to seek deeper and more complicated causes for unhappiness or discontent. However, why not start with the simple solutions? Tackling the larger problems in life is much easier if you are not feeling overwhelmed, embarrassed, anxious, or lost.
Take a look at our four professional tips for making your cleaner, more organized home a sustainable, stress-reducing endeavor. We know you can toss away junk and create systems of organization that work for you and your household. These tips are meant to make the impacts lasting, obvious, and contagious.
Don’t Forget the Car and the Office
Do you ever peek into the cars of your coworkers? Are you ever astounded to find the backseat of your cleanest employee’s car filled with clothes and empty fast food bags? It’s more common than you think. When we consider the spaces we inhabit we too often forget about the car and the office. Yet we spend hours in our car each week, and outside of our beds, many of us spend the bulk of our time in our office spaces. Treat your truck and your desk just as you would your clean, organized house.
Do It For Others
When we try to make changes for ourselves, we stand a better chance of success if we have measurable, visible results and rewards. When we do things for others, we are less focused on the remuneration because we become naturally imbued with the senses of accomplishment and inner peace that come with helping others. If you want to accomplish temporary peace, do it yourself. If you want to achieve lasting change, do it for someone you love.
We just mentioned it above, but it’s worth touching on twice. Changes and new methods are going to be much more sustainable and enjoyable if there is a reward for the challenge. We need to appreciate ourselves just as we do our employees or our children. Show your self-pride after organizing and decluttering by treating yourself to a reward. Make it clear, silly as it may sound, exactly what you are rewarding yourself for. You will be much more likely to maintain the new habits and systems if you know you are receiving a pleasurable reward upon completion.
Pay it Forward
Share your successes and best practices. There are ever-growing numbers of people looking for tips on bettering their lives. Some Instagram or Pinterest feeds read like amateur self-help books. People need help, and people need to feel as though they are not alone. When you share your new, clean, organized home, you are helping others to realize that they, too, can overcome their messes and stresses.
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