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Become A Clean Person This Year In 10 Steps

Become A Clean Person This Year In 10 Steps

If you are struggling to become a clean person and keeping yourself and your space in order this year, here are 10 ways to make a clean break from your old habits and become a cleaner, more organized person in 2014. Many things may affect your personal cleanliness and home, but you do not have to let it. Your mess does not own you, you own your mess.

1. Don’t Neglect Your Mental Health.

If you noticed that you abandoned cleaning or keeping up with yourself in the past year, you may choose to ask yourself if depression, fatigue, health issues, too many obligations or low self-esteem were at play. If so, you may wish to enlist the help of a loved one, confidant or trusted guide or therapist and reflect on your thinking patterns or life changes that may have affected you deeply in the previous year. Cleaning your mind is one of the first steps you can take to a more organized year and to become a clean person. You will find great empowerment in a little soul cleansing. Sometimes, we are not even aware of the impact of a certain experience on ourselves, until long after. To become a clean person, you have to take into consideration that your inside environment may be affecting what is going on around you and could be acting as a barrier.

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2. Write Down Three Cleaning Goals Every Day and Do Them.

If you are facing piles of papers, boxes, trinkets, toys, unopened mail and clothes strewn about, you may feel overwhelmed. It may seem easy to just walk away and ignore the mess until it gets bigger again and even more overwhelming.  Don’t let an already out of control mess get worse.  Take it on slowly, one step at a time.  Make a point to sit down everyday with your calendar or notepad and write a list of three things that you would like to attend to.  The list is only for you to see, so don’t feel obligated to show anyone else. Your list might include things like throwing away unused magazines, mopping the kitchen floor, clipping your toenails, organizing your purse or wallet. At the end of each day, you can take pride in having completed your tasks and if you’re up to it, add on two or more to the list.  Slow and steady wins the race and before you know it, you’re once daunting mess, will become smaller and more manageable.

3. Start Small.

Small gestures toward your goal to become a clean person are what leads to success. As the Sufis and Buddha say; “Each drop of water makes an ocean.” These simple efforts will go a long way in re-establishing your patterns and intentions for the new year. Each step is in its own way, a journey to better understanding yourself. Your small act of cleanliness might simply be taking a deep zen breath and getting in a good shower or bath, doing your laundry, washing your car, dusting your bookshelf, wiping down your computer keyboard or hanging up your clothes. As you build your cleaning prowess, you may graduate to tackling one room at a time.

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4. Decide What Products you Need to Help you Clean.

Take a look at your list of goals and see what sorts of products you will need to purchase, if you don’t already have them. You may realize you need silver cleaning cloths so you can clean your favorite time piece and organize your jewelry box, garment bags or more hangers for your closet. You may not figure out what you need until you are in the midst of cleaning.  Write them down as you go along so you’ll know what to buy the next time you go to the store.

5. Keep a Small Stock of Basic Cleaning and Grooming Needs.

Now that you have a sense of what you will need to become a clean person, you can make a small investment in keeping your items organized and in place.  Make a list of the items you need for yourself and your home and stock up at the store.  Or save some money by swapping with friends or family, check out free-cycle type community pages online where others can share and give away what they are not using or needing and you can return the favor to them, especially as you uncover all sorts of items that may have been sitting around, unused.

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6. Approach Each Task with Curiosity.

Try to remove self-judgement and stay present in your activity. Do not beat yourself up for the mess of unfolded towels or dirty dishes. Treat each activity like therapy. It’s something that’s helping you relax and allowing you to contemplate new ways to make use of the things you have. You may wish to even turn on some calming music as you clean or organize. Cleaning is a great time to think and act in silence. A mantra to encourage your desire to become a clean person, may bring you comfort, too. Whether you are cleaning yourself, your home or the dishes, it is all an act of appreciation for your little sliver of the world. Do not be surprised if you are suddenly inspired and struck with brand new ideas to approach other aspects of your life.

7. Learn to See Things for What They Are: Things.

It is very easy to accumulate a significant amount of things due to attachment and romantic thoughts associated with each piece. As you aim to become a clean person this year, you will want to assess whether the things you have are serving you positively or weighing you down emotionally. It may be affecting your productivity, ability to start a new project, or keep up with basic house chores and personal grooming. Some of your treasures inspire and uplift you.  Keep the things you cherish and display them in your home.  But also be aware of items you’re attached to simply because they’ve always been in your life or you think you ‘might need it someday.’  This type of thinking and attachment to things can create a mountain of unusable goods that just sits around and collects dust.  Learning to let go of your stuff will lead to a really profound emotional freedom within you and you’ll soon learn that you don’t need ‘things’ to make you happy.

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8. Make a Small Pile of What you Want to Keep and Let Go of the Rest.

As you go through your list of cleaning goals, you will want to pay close attention to the items you are cleaning, using, organizing and putting in order. Are there dried roses, dirty pillow cases, a weird foot massaging contraption you never used, or out of date make up? Make a few piles of those items that need to retire to the bottom of the recycling/trash bin or be donated.  This may seem harder than it is but once you remove judgement, attachment and expectation, you will find that minimizing your possessions will allow you more time and space to get creative and clean.

9. Give Yourself Time.

When starting on your cleaning goals, allow yourself enough time so you do not feel overwhelmed and rushed. If you start to feel so, stop and take inventory of what you want to do and what your time will realistically allow at that moment in your quest to become a clean person. You may want to start an alarm, if you have other pressing matters you need to attend to afterwards. Or you can set a timer to see how long certain tasks will take you, so you can better plan and schedule them throughout your week and develop them as routines. You may only get to one of the three and put off the other two for later on in the day, or another day all together, and put in its place another task that will take less of your time. That is okay. Your mere intention and action are half the battle. In the end, you can still relish in the fact that you took action and completed something. Do not feel you must accomplish everything at once.

10. Always, always make your bed. (And floss!)

Studies continue to show that those who make their bed daily are happier, feel more energized, clear-headed and able to focus better. A simple routine of making your bed can inject something positive into your day so include this in your daily routine.  Making your bed is not only for the benefit of a cleaner, more organized space but it’s also a good gift to yourself as you become a clean person, creating an inviting space for you to return to after a long day. A great book on creating lasting habits is The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. Like flossing, you will feel the difference immediately when you make your bed. And you will save money and time that might go to constantly replacing ill-cared for bed sheets or dental visits!

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Last Updated on July 17, 2019

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

What happens in our heads when we set goals?

Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

The Neurology of Ownership

Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

The Upshot for Goal-Setters

So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

Reference

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