The Solution. One Resolution.

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I do not have a list of New Year’s resolutions. For too many years I set myself up declaring all the things I was going to change about myself, yet did not stick with long enough to actually achieve the change I wanted. Then I would spend the next eleven and a half months beating myself up for not keeping the resolutions I made.

 This year join me in breaking the habit of making a long list of resolutions. Let’s identify one thing to concentrate on, to make a consistent part of our new 2014 life style. For example, let’s focus on cleaning up and maintaining clean spaces within our homes and outer environment to enhance the universal flow of energy around and through our body, other people and pets, and the objects surrounding us.

Known in Asian cultures as Qi (Ch’i) or “life-force,” this stream of energy is the underlying reason why we feel positive and peaceful when our space is neat and clean. When our room is a mess or our home or car is disorganized, we feel stress and chaos. This belief is similar to the one I was exposed to as a child in the phrase, “cleanliness is next to godliness.”

Today I realize that being clean pertains mostly to my behavior, thoughts, and deeds. But I have also learned that when my outer environment is neat and orderly, that organization spills over into my inner environment. Less clutter means less distraction, so my energy can be more focused and productive.

To improve our mood and sense of well-being, let’s clean out our home and maintain clean spaces. This is especially important since we live in a world where collecting seems to be a widespread obsession. The chaos and stress of being surrounded by so much stuff can be emotionally and physically distressing.

At home pick up every object and ask yourself how you are impacted by it. Does an item store unpleasant memories? If so, doesn’t keeping it around make you feel uncomfortable? Taking an emotional inventory of your possessions shifts something inside you. Releasing many of your things will cause change in some long-held patterns about what really matters and makes you content.

Part of loving ourselves is caring about how our environment feels and looks. There is a deep sense of balance derived from taking time to organize and clean out closets, drawers, bookshelves, tabletops, and cabinets. We determine whether the items in our home have a purpose and a place. We give away, donate, recycle, or sell any excess. Through the effort of cleaning up our home, office, and car, we can dramatically lessen distractions and improve our sense of well-being, balance, and inner peace.

Another advantage of cleaning up our outer environment is greater inner awareness and respect for our shared outdoor space. While we may have a home with a yard that we own or rent, the entire planet is our home and residence to billions of other people, animals, and plant life. It is a heart-responsibility to care about how our actions impact the planet and delicate balance within the natural world.

For example, in Los Angeles, owners must pick up after their pets—it’s a law. I was out walking my dog when I overheard a woman comment that she did not need to pick up after her dog because its droppings were good fertilizer. There was a time I thought my dog’s poop was just fertilizer too; that is, until I took the time to learn and care about the environmental and public health safety reasons behind the law.

The Environmental Protection Agency classifies pet waste as a pollutant, just as our own bio waste is considered an agent for both viral and bacterial diseases. So, pet droppings are not good fertilizer. Even if we do not live near a body of water, animal poop can get washed into storm drains and end up in faraway streams, rivers, and groundwater.

Assessing and purging applies not only to our personal property but to the beautiful planet we call home. Take inventory of how you can properly dispose of paints, chemicals, printer cartridges, batteries, cell phones, computers, plastic bags, and other things in your everyday life that can negatively impact the natural world.

Let’s make our 2014 resolution to maintain clean spaces for everyone on the planet and all life that calls Earth home. The small actions we take do make a big difference.

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