I really needed a new car. I had driven it for 11 1/2 years. It had 228,480 miles on it. The gas gauge stopped working 18 months ago. The car smelled like fuel every morning after I had pumped gas the night before. The brakes needed to be replaced. The check engine light would come on intermittently for no apparent reason. The seats were cracking. The stains were plentiful.
A few days before we traded it, my husband gave it a relatively quick detail job, vacuuming the floors and seats and wiping the surfaces.
The result was amazing. Each time I got into the car for those few days, I experienced a notable burst of happiness. I sat a little taller and felt proud of my vehicle, even with all its cracks and creaks.
We still needed a new car. But this experience reminded me that even though the car had been deteriorating, that didn't mean I had to give up on caring for it. Even though there were some stains that wouldn't come out, that didn't mean I could not take care of the ones that would. I still had access to a vacuum cleaner and sponge, for goodness sake.
In light of all the problems in the world and the pressing issues we all have to face, does the cleanliness of a car really matter?
I think it does. I believe in the title of Gretchen Rubin's new book: "Outer Order, Inner Calm." This is not to say that cleaning your counter can give you inner peace. But rather, "At home, at work, and in life, when we get our possessions under control by using the strategies that are right for us, we feel both calmer and more energetic." I think the crumbs and the stains were draining my energy without me realizing it, and I'm sure that's happening in other areas of my life - and probably in yours too.
Feeling anxious at work? Tidy your work space. Ready for a new home but that's not even remotely an option? Clean and fix yours as if you were going to sell it and you might just find you want to stay. Driving a clunker? Take away some its clunkiness. Can't find anything to wear in your overstuffed closet? Pare it down and you'll likely uncover some options you love. Bored with your bathroom? Add one or two new accessories or accents. Not feeling much joy in your bedroom? Evaluate each object; move out the ones that don't serve you and move around the ones that do. Not smiling at your reflection? Consider a new haircut.
Want to feel more calm or more energetic? Spruce up.
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