Cleaning your home has so many more benefits than just clean floors and shiny mirrors. In fact, cleaning has many psychological benefits as well. And, it’s these psychological benefits that really stand out in Gretchen Rubin’s book, The Happiness Project. Gretchen’s focus in the book is much more extensive, taking a full year, month by month to analyze what truly makes us happy. But, her thoughts on “tossing, restoring and organizing” in the first chapter are truly inspiring! The minute we walk through the door, she says, household disorder is a constant drain on our energy. So, removing clutter is, of course, the main objective. Here’s a few ways to apply The Happiness Project principles in your home:
The Dump Zone
Digging further, Gretchen pinpoints household clutter traps, which she calls Dump Zones. Every home has one or more! Whether it’s the hall closet, the kitchen counter or a chair in your bedroom, it’s the place that obediently collects our homeless items and looks, well, chaotic. Just a glimpse of the mess can weigh us down, making any task seem greater than it really is. Find ways to remove the temptation to put things there. Hanging hooks, building shelves or removing the chair completely will make you feel lighter.
An Empty Shelf
Along the way, friends of the author provide her with a few amazing tips. One in particular, is truly thought provoking – the need for an empty shelf. Among the unavoidable clutter of everyday life, an empty shelf represents control and even possibility. It lets the space breathe. And more than that, she states it is “a luxurious waste of something useful for the sheer elegance of it.” Clean off a shelf in your home and see if it, in turn, mentally sweeps clean your thoughts, boosts your energy and puts a skip in your step!
A Virtual Move
Taking a very minimalist approach to paring down one’s belongings, another one of Gretchen’s pals suggests a “virtual move”. Simply, walk around your home, room by room, and ask yourself – if I were moving, would I pack this up or get rid of it? The key here is to be honest with yourself and stay true to your convictions. If you wouldn’t pack it, then it needs to go. Which may not necessarily mean to the dump, but perhaps recycled or repurposed to a new home instead.
The Happiness Project is a fun and uplifting read. Borrow it from the library or from a friend, and then, whatever you do, don’t put it away on a shelf, pass it on for another to enjoy – and keep that empty shelf!
(Photo by Michael Dam)