It’s said that cleanliness is next to godliness, but cleanliness is really an indication of your sanity. If you want to add stress to your life, add clutter. If you want to look like you have no self esteem, and who doesn’t, stop showering and cleaning your clothes. In Malcom Gladwell’s book Blink, he references a study that says you can tell more about a person from looking at his or her bedroom than a year of meeting every week for lunch. I’m not sure how specific this can be because if you look at the bedrooms of a lot of married men all you’re going to find is that they’re whipped and have no say in how the bedroom looks. What I do know is that for me, if I’m overworked and feeling stressed, the first few places that become disaster zones are my bedroom and car. The great thing about knowing this is if I’m ever feeling stressed or overwhelmed the best thing I can do for myself is to clean them. I know when I make the time to vacuum my car, which is only a handful of times a year, I feel like a weight has been lifted off. When I organize and clean my room, I feel liberated. Typically what happens is the busier I get the more I throw stuff down figuring I’ll put it away later… it’s funny how we lie to ourselves. With these places being messy, when I see them all I see is another job I need to do, which adds to the already blossoming stress. Or if you’re more symbolic, looking at a messy sock drawer is like looking into your soul: (person looking in drawer) “My life is a mess… I’ll fix it later.” And if you can’t find matching socks, that just makes you want to go back to bed and/or scream. Cleanliness is next to sanity; it shows that you take the time to keep things organized, which helps you feel better and find things easier later.
At the same time, being overly clean is also an indication that there’s something wrong with your mental sanity. For instance, being too clean can be a sign that there’s OCD or a problem with perfectionism. I had a friend who had the perfect… everything. He was good at everything. He had a beautiful wife who was a doctor that he helped pay to get through school because he made so much money at a job he was great at and enjoyed. He was so perfect he didn’t need to wear deodorant because he never smelled bad. The one day a small group of us was meeting in his perfectly decorated home to brainstorm some ideas and I somehow dropped my pen and it landed writing tip down on his brand new suede sofa. As pens will do, it left a nice line of shame and regret on the cushion. I was panicking because… that’s a normal response when you damage someone’s stuff. For my friend, a less than sane person would’ve freaked out. A partially sane person would have bit their lip with a sign of rage behind their eyes. He, being perfect, calmly grabbed some cleaner to wipe it off. When that didn’t work, he flipped the cushion and said he’d take care of it later. He handled that perfectly… as expected. His perfect house wasn’t a sign of OCD or perfectionism; it was a sign that he was perfectly sane… I kind of hated him, and at the same time fully admired him and wanted to be more perfect like him.
This week give yourself a treat and take the time to clean your bedroom and car, and enjoy the sense of peace it can bring.
Rev Chad David, www.ChadDavid.ca, learning to love dumb people