I’m a bit of a neat freak — I like things decluttered and clean. And so when people in my house leave things around (which happens when you have lots of kids, naturally), I catch myself getting a little frustrated.
“Why can’t they clean up after themselves?” I’ll catch myself thinking.
I know this is a self-centered thought, so when I’m mindful, I can just watch the thought arise and then let it pass peacefully by.
I’m not proud of it, but other times I don’t notice the selfishness and it can get me irritated. Lately I’ve discovered a mental trick that I really love: I see the things my family leaves around as little love notes for me.
My daughter leaves her legos all over the living room? A love note for me — yay!
My son left his cookie crumbs all over the counter? Another love note — amazing!
I can pick up after them gratefully, or give them a hug of thanks and ask them to clean up.
The legos can be seen as frustrating, because why don’t they clean up, or I can see them as the physical manifestation of my daughter’s personality, the things she’s passionate about, the playfulness in her heart. And I can realize that if she weren’t living with me, yes I’d have a lovely neat never messy home … but then she wouldn’t be in my life.
So now I see the legos as a reminder that I have this beautiful person in my life. A love note, unintended unexpected unendurably full of love.
Zen Habits is about finding simplicity in the daily chaos of our lives. It’s about clearing the clutter so we can focus on what’s important, create something amazing, find happiness.
It also happens to be one of the Top 25 blogs and Top 50 websites in the world, with more than a million monthly readers, and is uncopyrighted. Zen Habits features a couple powerful articles a week on: simplicity, health & fitness, motivation and inspiration, frugality, family life, happiness, goals, getting great things done, and living in the moment.
My name is Leo Babauta, and I’m the creator and writer. I’m married with six kids, I live in San Francisco (previously on Guam), I’m a writer and a runner and a vegan.