By Karin Friedemann, TMO
Next to a clean conscience, there is almost nothing that makes a person feel more relaxed than a clean house. When our home is tidy, we feel more eager to invite somebody inside, and we feel more able to think clearly.
According to Tirmidhi, the Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) said: â€œAllah is pure and likes purity, He is clean and likes cleanliness, He is generous and likes generosity, He is hospitable and loves hospitality, so clean your courtyards.â€
When our home is a mess, cleaning up that mess usually takes up space in our brains as something that must be dealt with before we can truly focus on our true life goals and desires. Living in a cluttered or dirty home drains oneâ€™s energy and mood so much that the Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) taught that living in filth erodes the faith. He taught that a Muslim is not even supposed to look at filth. Obviously we cannot clean something properly without looking at it. But what we should never do is look at filth and leave it there, forcing others as well as ourselves to look at it again and again, while telling ourselves we will get around to cleaning it up later. Looking at a messy house is often more mentally draining than the actual work of cleaning it.
â€œPeople who constantly live in a state of chaos are prone to procrastination and an inability to commit to work or relationships. They get anxious and overwhelmed with change and usually give up before they even start the project. Their finances and time are wasted; they feel stuck and bad about themselves,â€ writes Ranka Burzan, author of The SOS Guide to Organize and Clean Your Home.
How many marriages have stalled, because one or both partners have felt overwhelmed by organizational tasks, so that year after year they promised their spouse, â€œIâ€™ll have time to pay attention to you after I do x,y and zâ€? Letâ€™s pretend x,y, and z are fixing the garage door, filing taxes, and finding gainful employment. These things could be seriously delayed by lack of organization, in other words they are dependent on u,v and w – finding oneâ€™s lost tools, locating oneâ€™s lost receipts, and overcoming a lost sense of self. Meanwhile, the hair becomes grey and youth fades away. The house is still messy but years of potential joy and togetherness have been wasted without being fully lived.
Regina Leeds, author of One Year to an Organized Life, writes that to remove the chaos, we must examine the psychological inner workings that influence our behaviors in order to create lasting change. Leeds states that clutter creates a â€œbrain dance,â€ an agitation and inability to think clearly amidst the stuff. She believes that â€œour clutter makes noiseâ€ keeping us â€œupset and churned.â€ When confronted with the piles and junk drawers we are also haunted with the â€œtyranny of shoulds,â€ stemming from our feelings of guilt about our disorganization. Leeds goes on further to describe disorganization as a â€œwaste of time, waste of money, and waste of energy.â€
Islamic ahadith suggest that satans and djinn live in dusty and neglected places. Some of the unseen beings that could result in evil might also include germs, mold and bacteria. The good news is that the actual act of cleaning your house not only improves your state of mind but cures spiritual lethargy.
Imam al Baqir said: â€œCleaning of the house banishes miseryâ€.
Cleaning up significantly improves your quality of life without spending a penny. Itâ€™s something a poor person can do to make his or her home more beautiful and valuable. Islam teaches that the act of cleaning up actually increases your blessings.
Remove cobwebs from your house, for they cause poverty,â€ the Prophet reportedly said.
Sherrie Bourg Carter discusses in Psychology Today that not only is clutter a symptom of mental clutter and a side effect of stress, but in a vicious cycle, clutter in itself causes us stress: â€œClutter can play a significant role in how we feel about our homes, our workplaces, and ourselves. Messy homes and work spaces leave us feeling anxious, helpless, and overwhelmed… Why does mess lead to so much stress?â€
â€œClutter bombards our minds with excessive stimuli (visual, olfactory, tactile), causing our senses to work overtime on stimuli that arenâ€™t necessary or important.
Clutter distracts us by drawing our attention away from what our focus should be on.
Clutter makes it more difficult to relax, both physically and mentally.
Clutter constantly signals to our brains that our work is never done.
Clutter makes us anxious because weâ€™re never sure what itâ€™s going to take to get through to the bottom of the pile.
Clutter creates feelings of guilt (â€œI should be more organizedâ€) and embarrassment, especially when others unexpectedly drop by our homes or work spaces.
Clutter inhibits creativity and productivity by invading the open spaces that allow most people to think, brain storm, and problem solve.
Clutter frustrates us by preventing us from locating what we need quickly (e.g. files and paperwork lost in the â€œpileâ€ or keys swallowed up by the clutter).â€
One of the best things we can do as parents is to teach our children how to clean, by giving them the responsibility and showing them how to do it. Many children will respond best to cleaning up with help, as a group. In time, this will give children the confidence and organizational skills that come with experience. Itâ€™s best if we can find a way to make it fun, like â€œLetâ€™s pretend we are playing basketball with the toys into the toy box!â€ rather than screaming and demanding. But even if you have to force them to clean, every boy and girl will need to know how to clean a toilet, how to mop a floor, how to scrub a stovetop or it will hurt their future chances for marriage!
Most of us often find it hard to muster up the excitement to throw ourselves into organizational tasks. In order to conquer this feeling, we can make a fun plan for what we are going to do after we finish cleaning. For example, â€œAfter cleaning the kitchen, I will set up candles and flowers to romance my spouse,â€ or â€œAfter I fix the leak under the sink, I will go out and play tennis with my neighbor.â€
Viewing home upkeep as a step towards goal, not the goal, will make the task seem less daunting or at least more worthwhile.