Monday, February 24, 2014

monday musing: spring-cleaning and how to let go of things you love

Personally, I think spring-cleaning is an essential part of every year. Sure, we all make resolutions at the beginning of a new year, but I think we all really need a time where we can force ourselves to just let go. Yes, it’s hard, but it’s worth it. Sometimes, it’s hard to see how old stuff is dragging us down- whether it’s old clothes clogging your closet or old thoughts and feelings bogging your mind down. Breakups, death, abandonment- there’s a wide range of shitty things that can happen in a year. But, before spring has officially sprung, let’s brainstorm ways on how to stop dwelling and start living. Whether you’re cleaning your mind, heart, or closet, spring is always a good time to move on from the old and make room for everything new the year has to bring. Spring is a time of rebirth, not only for nature, but for any aspect of your life that you feel could be improved, as well. While literal spring-cleaning is much easier than mental cleaning, it is equally important. The organization of your space and the way you feel in it has a huge impact on your life. You will most likely feel a lot better in a space that is open, airy, and free of unnecessary junk than in a space that is so crowded that navigating it is a task in and of itself. Sometimes, though, cleaning and clearing can be hard. Not just because it can be boring, but because it’s often hard to let things go, even if they’re just material. This part of life, letting go of things you love, is something we constantly have to deal with. So, my suggestion is start small. When faced with the arduous task of just getting rid of things, start with what you know is unimportant- toss out old scraps of paper and file away old receipts (the season of cleaning is also the season of taxes, unfortunately). Slowly make your way towards the harder decisions: your childhood teddy bear, for example. While you may not really want to part with it, do you really need it sitting out in the open? Probably not. Find a place for it that’s out of sight but not out of mind. One of the most important things to keep in mind is that every object should have a place it belongs. So, if there are things out not in their place, put them there. If there are things out that don’t have a place, find one. The goal is really to de-clutter. A de-cluttered space can be congruous with a de-cluttered mind, or at least help you get there. Keep your short term and long-term goals in mind. If you’re cleaning your closet, think about what your style is now, what you like and don’t like about it, and what you want to change. That way, you have a clearer vision of what exactly it is that you want to keep or get rid of.  Another example is cleaning your pantry. If you want to lose weight, get rid of your junk food. If you’re not trying to adjust your diet, just get rid of things that are expired or you don’t like. It’s important to be thinking about what exactly it is you’re trying to achieve with your spring cleaning, so that there’s a sort of method to the madness. Now, spring-cleaning of the mind is a subject completely different, yet at the same time, conveniently similar. Again, think about what you’re trying to achieve here. What is it that you think is holding you back in your life? Laziness? Memories? Old emotions? Whatever it is, you have to remember that all of these are things that comprise your being. They are a part of you. So while you may not be able to get rid of them in the same way you can that old pair of jeans or expired food, there are ways to move on from them and make room for all the new ideas, emotions, or habits to come. Keep a practical goal of moving forward instead of forgetting. Chances are, you can’t just completely wipe that great romance out of your memory, nor will you be able to root an old habit completely out of your system. The key is to find newness to focus on and to think about why you’re trying to move on. If it’s about a person/group of people, think about who they are, how they affected your life, and why you’re trying to move away from them. Once you figure out all the why’s, it will be easier to pinpoint exactly what it is you’re looking for. Surround yourself with people who make you feel good and you genuinely want to be around. If you’re trying to separate yourself from someone, think: is this person an asshole? If yes, then you’re already half way there. You know that they’re not worth your time, nor are they worth spending time feeling hatred towards. Separate yourself from the negativity, and move on to spending time with people who are worthwhile. If no, then maybe this is a signal that you should learn how to accept criticism and use it to be the best you can be. However, don’t accept animosity as criticism. If something is flat-out mean, then they probably ARE an asshole, or making some serious mistakes, and you need to give them space to deal with their own issues. Getting rid of old habits can be harder, but don’t let that scare you. Picture what you believe the antithesis is of whatever habit it is you’re trying to break, and start working towards that. This is definitely easier said than done, but you can do it- just take baby steps! For example, if you’re trying to be less lazy, start by doing an hour of whatever it is you have to do before you spend an hour on Facebook. Little by little, you can build up from here to keep yourself on track. I also recommend writing schedules, reminders, and helpful notes to yourself that you know you’ll see throughout the day. For some reason, seeing something written down (especially in my own handwriting) helps me stick to my goals. Emotions are going to be the hardest thing to move on from, by far. The most important thing is to start by distracting yourself. Keep yourself happy. Happiness is always the best distraction. Go out into the world and do whatever it is that makes you happy! Go to a concert, bake cupcakes, read a book! Yes, it’s important to please those around you, but you won’t be able to live your life with a clear head unless you’re happy. The goal here is that your happiness, which starts as a distraction, will become the primary emotion you feel. Once you’re happy, it’s a lot easier to gain some perspective on what is important versus what’s not, especially when it comes to dwelling on your past emotions and feelings. I know this is cheesy, but happiness is and always will be key. From there, you can better organize your feelings, see light where there was pain, and hopefully carry that with you into the future. A little hard work and determination can go a long way, and hopefully this spring will be the beginning of keeping your space, mind and heart clean. Good luck!

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