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Make Space For The Power Of Ritual

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Rituals are a helpful strategy to lean on when you need to make space for big (or small) things that are disagreeable and feel like chores. Leveraging the power of ritual can turn that chore into something you look forward to instead of something you dread. How so? By adding ritual elements to the chore that are fun and rewarding, essentially tricking your brain into putting said chore into the ‘want to’ column instead of the ‘have to’ column. This hack works with adults and kids alike and can be applied in any number of scenarios.  I’m going to cover 3 examples here that are perennial winners for me as well as my clients. They work wonders for keeping homes organized and avoiding clutter build-up while at the same time spending some quality time with yourself and your people.

Scenario 1: The Sentimental Save

Some people have a really hard time getting rid of things that were gifted to them by someone special. These folks keep toys and/or clothes their kids have outgrown, wedding presents that haven’t been used or displayed in decades or ‘heirlooms’ collecting dust and taking up precious closet space in their home. If any of these examples hits home for you then decluttering to make space for something (or just make space!) is likely really difficult. You end up with a lot of stuff you don’t want or need taking up physical space in your home and mental space in the back of your mind. If this challenge describes you then I have an effective ritual to employ when it’s time to declutter. Use the act of getting rid of something to connect with the person who gave it to you. Reaching out could be a phone call or a quick text but letting that person know you are thinking about them. I just finished reading ‘The Good Life’ by Robert Waldinger and Marc Schulz and according to the longest scientific study of happiness ever conducted, a happy, fulfilling and meaningful life is all about relationships. So if you begin to incorporate this ritual wherever there is some decluttering that needs to happen you’ll be contributing to your present and future happiness.

Scenario 2: The Closet Swap

Digging through your closet for sandals in the summer, sweaters in the winter and sneakers for all seasons is no fun and can happen no matter what size your closet is. A seasonal closet swap is a fantastic ritual to begin if you would like a closet that is easy to ‘shop’ in. It may seem daunting to go through your closet twice a year to purge and bring forward everything relevant for the current season BUT not if you create a ritual. I’ve written extensively on this topic but the key elements are: designating time on your calendar, begin with a favorite beverage in hand, and inspiring music or throwback movie for background ambiance. Ensuring you have time and adding some attractive elements can make this chore super fun and entertaining.

Scenario 3: The Toy Purge

Do A Toy Purge With Your Kids Twice A Year

The ‘toy years’ are flush with an influx of gifts: birthday parties, holidays, gifts purchased to avoid tantrums in Target, all of them accumulating in your house. Many kids hold a special affinity for stuffed animals, which in addition to being space suckers are also hard to contain. Starting a Toy Purge ritual with your kids (I recommend twice a year) will help keep your home from being overrun with stuffies and also teach your kids the value of decluttering. Again, the secret is to add elements of fun like music, making the exercise into a sort of game (kids LOVE to categorize!) plus dangle a reward for completion (ice cream? Starbucks? Acquisition of that thing they’ve been asking for endlessly?)  If you are consistent with the ritual they really get into it and learn to let go of the toys that aren’t serving them anymore. Plus it’s good quality time! When they get older and are past the Toy phase you can move on to clothing just to keep the party rolling…

One thing I haven’t mentioned is the feeling of satisfaction you get from performing these kinds of rituals – and it’s pretty big. The lasting benefits of organizing and decluttering are considerable, not to mention the sense of accomplishment you feel when you complete your ritual. These three examples are illustrative of a concept that you can apply to almost anything you know you should do but don’t want to. When you make space for rituals they can make your life easier and richer, who doesn’t want that?

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