There’s one best, sure-fire way to keep your house neat and tidy:
Regularly invite people over to it.
Whenever you’re anticipating a visit from guests, finding the motivation to get your place in order ceases to be a problem. Toilet paper rolls move from the floor to the holder; shipping boxes get taken to the post office; random clutter that’s been sitting on the counter for weeks finally gets put away.
The fear of social shame is a big driver behind this cleaning spurt; we don’t want our guests to think we live like slobs. But it’s also spurred by the opening of the ability to see our surroundings through other people’s eyes. Messiness that we’ve gotten used to, as we’ve lived among it 24/7, suddenly stands out.
Inviting people into our thinking has a similarly cleansing effect on our mental clutter.
Solitude is vitally important for fruitful reflection; cultivating our own, original ideas; listening to our inner, self-reliant thoughts. But, if we don’t share those thoughts with others, they can become disordered, run-down, and outright squalid.
In conversation, we get to see our thinking through other people’s eyes, and sometimes find it’s gone a little bit to pot.
In conversation, we see that opinions we’re super high on actually have some holes. Or that something we’re overly down on (often ourselves) has more worth than we’d been believing; other people can help us locate hope in what can seem hopeless.
Dialogue and discussion are crucial in disentangling our messy mental knots.
Because of “nose blindness,” we don’t notice how our house smells, but visitors do; likewise, friends and family can tell us, in the healthiest possible way, “Hey, your thinking stinks!”
So be sure to invite folks over now and again — both into your home, and into your head.
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