A quick action plan for getting in control of your life, by getting in control of your home
There are all sorts of different self-help books and courses out there designed to try and give people a sense of control over their lives – and the advice contained in these books and courses runs the gamut from daily affirmations, to productive support groups…
There’s a lot to be said for these tips, and many of the other tips that commonly get recommended. But sometimes the best way to begin getting your life under control, is to start by getting your home under control.
Writers on the history of religion and psychology, have previously commented on the fact that the home is, symbolically and psychologically, something like an extension of the ‘self’. When our homes are well-structured and well-ordered, structure and order spills over into our sense of self, and has significant benefits in a broad range of different ways.
These days, you can quite easily have all sorts of different work done to your home, ranging from the installation of custom carports, to the addition of new extensions, with far less fuss than ever before. But all of those structural tweaks and adjustments are not going to feel worth very much, if you are letting some of the fundamentals slip, first.
Clean the place up, and get rid of everything that you know you should get rid of
The first thing you need to do in order to get your home – and your life – in order, is to break the mental block that keeps you from taking action. In the context of your home, this means that you need to clean the place up and get rid of everything that you know you should get rid of. If you’ve been neglecting your home for some time, there’s a good chance that your home won’t be sparking joy! It may take a good dose of willpower to actually get you into motion.
The parallels with life may be pretty obvious. Maybe you’ve been spending a long time stuck in a dead-end job that you don’t like and desperately want out of but haven’t been able to work up the resolve, or energy, to actually leave? Maybe your life is dominated by negative habits that you know are bad for you – things like smoking, binge drinking, and eating junk food, for example – but you’ve just been putting the issue out of your mind to avoid having to face it directly.
The author Nassim Taleb has written about the via negativa’ which he largely means removing harmful things from your life, or no longer doing harmful things. Or, subtracting things from your life in order to judge the results, rather than perpetually adding things.
Give your home a ‘minimalist makeover’ and get rid of stuff you don’t use or value
At its core, there’s a pretty healthy impulse behind minimalism. Specifically, the desire to avoid having a completely cluttered up existence, filled with distraction, stress, materialistic status anxiety, and all the rest.
Certain advocates of minimalism have gone a bit too far with their advice so it’s not surprising that a lot of people get put off the idea of trying it out because they don’t want to live in a home that contains nothing but a laptop and a toothbrush! Without going completely crazy it is worth giving your home a bit of a minimalist makeover. The key thing here is to remove things from your home which are not useful to you, and which you don’t have much of an emotional connection to.
This could be as simple as getting rid of your TV, so that you can spend more time with your partner, or reading books. Or it could mean dropping one hobby, to focus on another.
Make time for silence and reduce distraction
According to famous Norwegian explorer Erling Kagge, we live in an extremely noisy time – in other words, a time that is totally full of distraction, even if there isn’t always a lot of sound present. Kagge classes surfing the web on a phone as an example of noise, that isn’t necessarily loud.
The antidote to this noise is to get comfortable with the idea of boredom, and to stop trying to fill every moment with information or entertainment of one type or another. In your home, this can apply to things like turning the TV off, and spending less time online. In the rest of your life, it can mean going for quiet walks, or exercising without a soundtrack.
It’s not that you have to be in a state of silence all the time. But by making room for silence in your life, you can control and calm your racing thoughts, gain new perspective and insight, and move things in a more meaningful direction.
*This is a collaborative post.