I can only imagine how desperately the residents of the eastern states are longing for the snow to melt and the air to warm up. I grew up with “real” winters, but have been in Arizona long enough to forget just how stuffy and stifling it feels to live in a house that’s been shut up tight for months. Here in Tucson, we didn’t have to struggle through massive snowstorms or debilitating cold, but there is still something about Spring that energizes us to say, “Out with the old; in with the new!”
What are some of the things in your life that need a fresh start, a do-over or just a one-way trip to the trash can? Here are some things we all need to clean out from time to time.
Resentments – No one benefits from a grudge. You hold on to the anger and pain hoping it will somehow make the other person miserable, and it just doesn’t work that way. If the resentment is against someone you know – or even love – step back from the feelings and think about whether the friendship is valuable. If so, give up your grudge. Forgiveness is fresh air to your relationships.
Bad Habits – Habits are powerful forces in our lives, and can either make or break us. Bad habits are guaranteed to cost you time, money, success, health, relationships or in extreme cases, your life. Anything you do regularly that gets in the way of your potential needs to go. Whether it’s chronic tardiness, foul language or negative speech, addiction to tobacco, sex, drugs, alcohol or your electronic devices, Spring is a great time to remove the bad habits that are holding you back and do whatever it takes to regain control of your life, your health and your happiness.
Toxic Relationships – The people who influence your life have a profound effect on who you are. People who encourage gossip and/or who are critical of you and others will poison your attitude and keep you from being the best you can be. Family and friends who drag you down rather than lifting you up need to have as little influence as possible, even if it means no longer spending time with your old high school buddy. It’s most difficult with family members, and may require advice and support from another person you trust or a professional therapist. Maintaining a relationship while protecting yourself from toxicity is an important part of “Spring cleaning” your life!
Time-wasters – Are there things you’ve been wanting to do but just can’t seem to finish? Taxes, home repairs, writing a book, planning a trip, pursuing higher education? What’s stopping you? In many instances, it’s time – or the lack of it. But if we are honest with ourselves, we often find that the real problem is wasting time. Television, social media, unimportant tasks, oversleeping. With a little self-discipline, we can set aside specific time to work on the things we say we want to do (but end up watching YouTube instead). Identify what you want to accomplish, and then make it a priority to do something to bring you closer to the goal before you grab the chips and pick up the remote.
Negative Thoughts – “I can’t” or “It’s never going to work” are not going to get you where you want to go. Spring clean your thoughts by catching yourself in the act of negativity and re-framing. Even choosing different words to express your feelings can help. Grumbling “I hate rainy days” is a surefire set up to have a bad day when the clouds roll in. Even a simple shift to, “I’ll be glad when the sun comes out,” or a joke like, “Great weather, if you’re a duck!” can put a more positive spin on a circumstance you can’t change. Many of us are bent toward negativity, but we can overcome it with intentional optimism.
Regret – Nothing feels more like an emotional ball and chain than regret. Letting the mistakes and heartbreaks of the past hold you back from living a joyful life in the present is only adding to the loss. When you’re feeling regret, consider first if there is actually something you can do to address it, like apologizing for your behavior to someone you hurt. But many regrets can’t be “fixed” in the present, and you need to push the past back into the past. Regret is only useful if it helps you do something better going forward. Take it as a lesson, learn from your mistakes, and move on.
Stuff – One thing I have learned over the years is that things I thought I needed often become things that get in the way. When I mentioned time-wasters above, one of them was unimportant tasks. This can include having to care for a lot of material possessions that don’t add any direct quality to your life. We can be obsessed with having material things, but then ultimately take loads of those things we “couldn’t live without” to Goodwill or the dump. What happened between the store and the box? Learn to do with less and you will have more – more time, more energy, more money and more freedom. Grab some boxes and start setting yourself free from having so much stuff!
Welcome to Spring, a great time to break out of old, stale ideas, relationships and habits and get a fresh start.
Live, Work and Relate Well!