In times of life crisis, whether wild fires or smoldering stress, the first thing I do is go back to basics… am I eating right, am I getting enough sleep, am I getting some physical and mental exercise everyday.”- Edward Albert

Pay Attention, Don’t Let Life Live you

We all let life get away from us at times, and we end up neglecting certain responsibilities or interests.  I can usually tell when I’ve started to let my attention slip and I start to lose control of the things that I should be exercising control over.  One of the surest signs for me that I’ve stopped practicing the basics of my lifestyle is that I let my home get messy.  I’ve been “meaning to” straighten up around here for the better part of a week now, but I’ve just been “too busy.”  While I’ve been so busy, I’ve felt my energy level drop, and I’ve noticed a significant decrease in not only my productivity, but also my sense of well being.

To put it simply, I started to notice that I was really sucking at life.  There was no reason for my motivation or energy to be down; nothing external had changed.  Once I realized that I wasn’t quite myself, I started trying to figure out the “why.”  I couldn’t come up with any good reason, so I decided to finally clean up around here, since I was obviously not going to get any work done on any of my other projects.

Cleanliness is Next to…Unstoppable-ness?

Within about fifteen minutes of straightening up I started to feel my mood lift, and my focus became more clear.  I just kept cleaning.  I scrubbed floors, vacuumed, did two loads of laundry, wiped counters, and so on.  Eventually everything looked and smelled better, and not only was I happier, but I managed to sit down and knock out a couple of issues that had been bothering me all week.

There is nothing really more basic than cleaning up your dwelling or your workplace.  Even animals do it, well, if not clean, they at least arrange it to their liking.  I think that it worked as a sort of reset for me; it took me back to the last spot that felt OK.  It also cleared my mind of the nagging thoughts about so many things I “should do.”  Once some of those simpler tasks were wiped off my to-do list, it freed my attention for the other items that had been put off.  Not only that, but it also set a higher standard than what I had been living up to for the rest of the week.

Set a Standard of Excellence

Not only will you feel better if you keep your work area, or your home clean, but I think that the same high standards will carry into other aspects of your life.  I like to look back on my time in the military, I hated the never-ending cycle of cleaning this or that.  At times it seemed like I was in training to be a custodian, but what I didn’t understand then, that I do now, is that maintaining the highest standards in the mundane tasks sets a standard of excellence for all tasks.

By holding yourself accountable for the basics, I think you will force yourself to excel in the things you consider “more important.”  So enough reading already, get on your rubber gloves and make that bathroom floor so clean that your Mother would eat off it!  It’s time to get to work on the basics and set a higher standard for your life!

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