March 20 was the first day of spring. We’ve all heard the phrase “spring cleaning,” but I wonder how many people actually do it. I sure don’t — but I think it’s an intriguing idea.
I’m a big fan for using dates as milestones, as prompts for self-reflection or for action. People say Mother’s Day is a Hallmark-driven, consumerist holiday – but still, it’s nice to remember to call your mother. Ditto with Valentine’s Day – it may be annoying to feel like you’re being pushed to buy, decorate, and celebrate – but still, it’s nice to take a moment to celebrate the people you love. Making New Year’s resolutions on January 1st may be arbitrary, but the discussion around that date helps us remember to think, “How might I make the new year better than last year?”
And the first day of spring and the idea of “spring cleaning” can act as a catalyst for cleaning and clearing.
The challenge of clearing clutter is one of my favorite sub-topics within the larger subject of happiness. For some reason, I find it utterly absorbing. It’s interesting – researchers aren’t very interested in exploring the connection between happiness and clutter, but in popular culture, it’s a huge subject of discussion.
I’ve found that for most people – and certainly for me – outer order contributes to inner calm. We’d all agree that in the context of a happy life, something like a crowded closet or an overflowing in-basket is a trivial issue, yet most people find that when they clear clutter, they feel happier, more energetic, and more creative.
Do you find that getting control of the stuff in your life — making your bed, hanging up your coat, clearing off your desk, cleaning out the fridge — makes you feel more in control of your life, generally? It may be an illusion, but it’s a helpful illusion.
In Better Than Before, my book about habit change, I write about the “Strategy of First Steps.” At least in my part of the world, spring feels like the right time to begin to tackle clutter-clearing, because as nature becomes renewed, fresh, and energized, we want our homes, offices, and cars to feel recharged as well. The outer world is bursting with growth, and it’s a good time to create more space for our own growth in our surroundings.
“Oh! Old rubbish! Old letters, old clothes, old objects that one does not want to throw away. How well nature has understood that, every year, she must change her leaves, her flowers, her fruit and her vegetables, and make manure out of the mementoes of her year!” –The Journal of Jules Renard (a wonderful book by the way)
For a while now, just for fun, I’ve been working on a short book called Outer Order, Inner Calm – and I’m excited to announce that it’s coming out March 2019. Just in time for spring-cleaning. If you want to hear more about the book, its publication date, get bonus tips, and so on, sign up for my monthly newsletter.
If you’d like to read more about creating outer order, these posts provide tips, ideas, and strategies for clutter-busting.
Of course, there’s no bad time to clear clutter. Once you’re ready to begin, now is always the best time. But when we need a reminder, the first day of spring is as good as any.
Do you plan to do any spring cleaning? Of what?
Gretchen Rubin is the author of the #1 New York Times Bestseller The Happiness Project—an account of the year she spent test-driving the wisdom of the ages, current scientific studies, and lessons from popular culture about how to be happier—and the recently released Happier at Home and Better Than Before. On her popular blog, The Happiness Project, she reports on her daily adventures in the pursuit of happiness. For more doses of happiness and other happenings, follow Gretchen on Facebook and Twitter.
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