Self-improvement is a big deal in modern society. In fact, it’s also a major industry, with thousands of books, movies, TV specials, seminars, courses, and assorted gurus arising on a virtually daily basis, with promises to turn you into a new, better, happier, stronger, healthier version of yourself.
The reason why this industry has been so successful and has grown so significantly is pretty clear. Self-improvement is a great idea and a great thing to dedicate your time, energy, and attention to. Who on earth doesn’t want to become better at what they do, and become a more upstanding, capable, and empowered version of themselves?
The issue arises when self-help gurus offer advice that is potentially dangerous, and at the very least doesn’t relate in a substantial way to the lives of the people they’re preaching to.
An old idea in self-improvement circles — one going back a long way, and without much New Age, esoteric baggage associated with it — is that positive change always starts on the small scale, and works its way upwards and outward.
If you want to make your life better across the board, it may just be the case that getting your home in order — whether you live in a stylish apartment in Marina One, or else in a cozy rural cottage in the Swiss Alps — is the best place to start.
Here are a few reasons why self-improvement should start in the home.
The way you treat your home and the way you treat yourself are intimately linked
It’s not uncommon for people who lack much self-respect, discipline, or sense of their own worth, to live in homes that are, consequently, messy, chaotic, unmanaged, and cluttered.
In fact, it’s far more likely to be the rare exception that you’d find someone who had a fundamentally undisciplined and self-loathing nature, but who nonetheless kept their home in immaculate condition.
The bottom line is that, for whatever reason, the way we treat our homes and the way we treat ourselves are intimately linked. This makes some sense when you consider the fact that, psychologically speaking, our homes are kind of like extensions of ourselves. We see them as being completely private domains that are subject only to our own desires, thoughts, feelings, and will. So we treat them roughly like we treat our own bodies.
If you accept this idea — that the way we treat our homes and the way we treat ourselves are connected, and that we tend to view our homes kind of as extensions of ourselves — then it becomes clear that getting your house in order is like getting a part of yourself in order.
If you’ve got just about no self-discipline, and have always struggled impossible to try and force yourself to stick to a schedule and act with deliberate intention, you clearly need to start developing your discipline incrementally, bit by bit.
Do you think you’re likely to have much if any, success in trying to impose structure on your time and routines if your home looks like a hurricane has just passed through? Probably not. You’d be much more likely to make positive change stick if you would first get your home in order. At the very least, being in a clean environment would send you a strong psychological message that you are capable of living an orderly existence.
You can fix up your home in a meaningful, tangible way, that automatically changes your outlook on things
One of the great things about your home is that you can take tangible, straightforward action to change the way it looks, feels, and functions.
When you begin your self-improvement journey by focusing on changing things directly in your inner spiritual or psychological life, however, you’re likely to discover in a hurry that very little is straightforward and that you need to put in a lot of work in order to understand yourself in that way.
On the other hand, if your room is a mess, you know what it’d take to tidy it. The task may be time-consuming and annoying, but it’s not going to be very complicated, or confusing. You pick your clothes up off the floor and put them in the laundry basket. You vacuum. You make the bed. And so on.
No matter how complex and deep your issues lie in life, you can always take practical and clear steps to improve the state of your home, today. And the magic of that is, when you change your home, you automatically change something inside yourself.
Maybe you’ve always believed that you’re a messy person. What kind of affirmations would be effective in dispelling that belief from within? Who knows? But by tidying up your room, you’d automatically establish a sense of yourself as a tidy person. All that you’d need to do in order to solidify that new identity, would be to keep cleaning.
Often, some of the deepest lessons can be found in plain sight
It may well be the case, as many have said, that some of the deepest and most profound life lessons hide in plain sight. That is, somewhere deep within us — maybe in our subconscious mind, or in a part of our soul, as you prefer — we know what we’re doing wrong, and what it would take to set things right.
In this view, the resentment, bitterness, sorrow, and other strong emotion we feel throughout the day when we look at other people and things, are projections of our own inner minds and our own inner sense of things.
So, if you’re out in the garden, planting some seeds, and you feel an immense sense of inner peace and joy wash over you, there may be a bigger lesson there if only you’d notice it. Maybe that message is that a part of your self cries out to nurture and develop things more mindfully in general?
Maybe that applies to your relationships and your professional life, and not just to your garden?
Working on your home can give you a lot of insight into your inner feelings and impulses, which can, in turn, teach you a lot of life-lessons about the best path to go down.