Happier Home, Happier You (Part 2)
SPECIAL OFFER: The Amazon Kindle edition of my book Uncluttered is available for a special price in the US and the UK through Friday, May 8.
Your home is like a mirror that reflects you. Studies demonstrate an interesting property of mirrors: If you smile every time you catch your own reflection, you will, at least temporarily, feel happier and see yourself as a happier person.
If your house makes you relax and smile, there's a pretty good chance your mindset will start to reflect your environment.
5 More Things You Can Do to Create a Happier, Healthier House
1. Make room for connection and nourishment.
Don't use dinner tables, coffee tables, armchairs, or your couch as storage spots and dumping grounds. Clear off surfaces to facilitate easy gathering. Encourage quality face-to-face time by turning chairs and couches toward each other instead of the television. And speaking of TV: Save it for after dinner. Give your family 30 minutes for distraction-free communal dining.
Go deeper: After a certain hour, put everyone's cellphones in a family charging station. People can still access their phones if they want, but they're forced to be more mindful about when and why they reach for technology. Do they need to check for an important message, or are they just going to mindlessly scroll through social media?
2. Clean the kitchen.
When you're done eating, rinse your dishes and put them into the dishwasher instead of leaving them in the sink. Put away leftover food, wash the pans, knife, and cutting board, and wipe the counters and the table. If necessary, take out the garbage. All of this takes just a few minutes, especially if everyone pitches in. You will really appreciate it in the morning, when you enter a kitchen that is already clean and ready for use.
Go deeper: Keep counters clear of all but every-day-use items. Declutter knickknacks and dusty cookbooks (no, don't search through them for recipes). Put other items in cupboards or the pantry. Are those areas already crowded? Here's a decluttering clue: You like and use the items that were crowding the counter more than the dusty items filling the cupboards. Donate those, and all the duplicates.
Other simple kitchen hacks:
- Clear your refrigerator of extraneous condiments. Do you regularly use three types of mustard, two brands of barbecue sauce, and four different hot sauces? Just how old is that cranberry horseradish sauce?
- "File" cookware. Instead of stacking skillets and lids, store them in a file-like organizer. This works well for cutting boards and baking sheets too.
- Mount a magnetic knife holder. It's useful for knives, shears, meat forks, pizza wheels, spice jars with metal lids, and more. A magnetic strip can also hold grooming implements and hair accessories in the bathroom or tools and paint brushes in the garage.
3. Optimize rest.
When we don't get enough sleep, we're at great risk of developing diseases -- everything from the cold going around the office to cancer. Sleep is when the body repairs itself and makes long-term memories, and adults need seven to nine hours per night (kids need more). So if there's one item you should splurge on, it's your bed. Invest in a high-quality mattress that will last for a decade. Trade scratchy linens and old lumpy pillows for something that makes you feel instantly comfortable.
Go deeper: Try an earlier bedtime so you can get up 30 to 60 minutes sooner than you do now. Treat yourself to leisurely mornings.
4. While you're at it, make the bed.
Your mother was right: You should make your bed every morning. The bed is the focal point of your bedroom, and when it's made, it brings order and clarity to the entire room (the opposite is also true). It only takes a couple of minutes, and it will set the tone for your entire day. Climbing back into a bed that's been made is more restful too -- it's like being in a nice hotel. All you're missing is a piece of chocolate on your pillow!
Go deeper: Put up a couple of hooks for outfits you can wear again that might end up strewn over a chair (or maybe on the floor...). Not only will your room look less chaotic, but hanging things up reduces wrinkles and keeps clothes looking fresh.
5. Create a peaceful nook.
You may not have the space for a meditation room, but you can create a quiet corner with a comfortable chair, soothing colors like blue, green, or neutrals, and plenty of light (a window is perfect; a warm-toned lamp will do). Use it for reading, journaling, knitting, or any hobby that doesn't involve Wi-Fi.
Go deeper: Challenge yourself to spend at least two minutes every day doing nothing but sitting in your nook. Try a simple gratitude meditation: Set a timer for two minutes. Close your eyes and take three cleansing breaths. Then, as you inhale, think "For _______," and as you exhale, think "I am grateful." I find that after I think of two or three things, a long stream of blessings comes to mind. When your timer goes off, the world will look a little brighter.
Photo by Stephanie Harvey on Unsplash.