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It's the Little Things That Wear You Down
Interesting discussion on Wifey Wednesday yesterday! And great links in the Mcklinky! I hope you all clicked through.

One thing struck me while I was reading the comments, though. So often in life we get caught up in the big things: Do we have enough money? Do we communicate well? Do I feel happy in this relationship? Are my kids heading in the right direction?

And yet the things that often determine our state of mind are often not those big things. It's often little things.

When we have clutter and disorganization, it makes us feel antsy. It's like an undercurrent to everything you do. It's not always there, easily evident, but it's quaking under the surface. And when we're feeling antsy about our home, it tends to lead to us also feeling antsy about other things in our lives. On the other hand, when we feel peaceful about our homes, we tend to approach the other elements in our lives with a more peaceful attitude. And that matters. Do we start off seeing things in a positive way, or in a negative way? It's often these little things, and not the big things, that determine how we see the rest of life.

For instance, when we're bothered by little things, especially these little things our husbands do, we tend to see our marriage in a more negative light, even if the rest of the relationship is great. It's those things that we deal with constantly that can wear us down, which is why I think it's important to do something about the little things.

Do you remember Rudy Giuliani and the broken windows theory? Here's the essence of it:

When Giuliani became mayor of New York, the city was in shambles. Nobody was scared of the police or even respected the police. The populace didn't feel safe. People stayed off the subways because they were dirty and dangerous. Graffiti was everywhere. And crime was rampant.

Instead of telling the cops to concentrate on the big crimes, which is what they had been doing, Giuliani had them focus on the small crimes. They began by cleaning the graffiti off the subways. Then they started arresting all the "subway jumpers"--those people who jumped over the turnstiles to ride the subways without paying. If there was a broken window, he fixed it.

People made fun of him, saying that he was focusing on the wrong thing. But he felt that these small things were symptomatic. When you let people get away with small things, they try bigger things. And having these small things wrong leads the populace to feel unsafe. Focus on the small things, and criminals are deterred and the population feels safer. Besides, as you pick up people for graffiti, you tend to also pick up the same people who are involved in armed robbery.

And Giuliani was proven right. The crime rate dropped, and New York became a very safe city.

So what are the broken windows in your life? What are you just letting go, that can lead to bigger problems?

Let me suggest a few:

1. Clutter, as we already talked about. When we feel like the house is disorganized, soon everything else becomes disorganized.

Can I give a few suggestions, based on comments? If your husband is keeping things for sentimental reasons (grandma gave these to me), then value that sentiment, but try to direct it to something more positive. For instance, if he has 15 knickknacks that remind him of Grandma that are scattered all over the house, have him pick one that is especially meaningful, and then give it a prized possession over the fireplace or in the middle of a bookshelf. Then get rid of the rest. Ask him to share with you what memories that piece has. What memories does he have of Grandma? And then when others are over, tell them about it. Keep that memory alive (he is, after all, entitled to feel kindly towards Grandma), but do it in such a way that he really does honour her, rather than simply scattering her stuff around).

2. Silly to-do piles. One of the comments mentioned that her husband had piles and piles of trade magazines, that he hated to throw out because there may be an article in there somewhere he might want to clip and save. We women do similar things. We save magazines for the same reason. We save photos because "one day I'll scrapbook those". We save all kinds of stuff because we honestly want to do something with them. We save all our receipts because we mean to keep track of every penny we spend.

But we don't. No one has that much time. And by keeping the piles, it's a constant reminder that you're lazy and that you have a ton of stuff to do. You can never truly relax in a house that has piles and piles of to do stuff.

This woman who commented took her husband's magazines and threw them out. I think that's liberating! Be honest with yourself: what is necessary to do? In this online world, so much is at the tip of your fingers you really don't need to save papers and magazines anymore. With your finances, is keeping track of bills enough, or do you want to track every penny? Are you really going to scrapbook that? If you truly don't need it, junk it. Nothing is worth making you feel that overwhelmed.

3. Television. Another thing that can sap our energy and our mood is television. Watching too many dark shows, or too many movies with a ton of swearing, just wears you down without you really knowing it. It's another small thing that can distort your attitude towards the rest of your life.

4. Sleep. When you don't get enough sleep, everything seems more hopeless. I know it's hard when you have little kids, but really try to prioritize getting to bed early. Carve out time during the day when you can snatch moments to yourself, so you don't have to do it at night. Put a video on for an hour. It won't kill the kids (don't do more than that, but I think that's okay). Find a craft you can do while they play in the same room. Whatever! But do get enough sleep.

So that's my advice: tend to the small things in your life. Don't let your home get too disorganized. Don't have massive piles of to do stuff you'll never actually do. Don't watch bad stuff on TV. And sleep. Do those four things, and you'll be amazed at how your outlook on life (and your marriage) will change!

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At 11:30 AM , OpenID thehorizontalyoyo said…

You hit the nail on the head when you were discussing clutter. That's exactly how I feel! And I don't just feel that way when I'm home. I kid you not, I'll be THINKING ABOUT MY CLUTTER WHILE I'M AT WORK! Clutter literally takes over my thoughts.

However, when I'm on my A-game and I don't have clutter and things are picked up, I feel at peace.

The home is the one thing in life that we have control over, yet we don't control it. Why is that?


At 11:48 AM , Blogger Tricia said…

Your post today is very inspirational. I know those 4 things weigh me down. Especially the clutter. I hope to work on decluttering this year - both my home and my head! Thanks for sharing.


At 5:42 PM , Blogger sarahe said…

Great post--I need to work on all 3!!! I also am guilty of keeping all the magazines so that "someday" will use them (but i DO scrapbook the sentimental stuff that I keep ;)

Thanks for the inspiration and motivation!!


At 7:43 PM , Blogger LAURA said…

Great advice!

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Name: Sheila

Home: Belleville, Ontario, Canada

About Me: I'm a Christian author of a bunch of books, and a frequent speaker to women's groups and marriage conferences. Best of all, I love homeschooling my daughters, Rebecca and Katie. And I love to knit. Preferably simultaneously.

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