A while ago i read the book The happiness project by Gretchen Rubin. It is a 12-month guide to finding satisfaction and happiness in life. Well, after I finished it, I did not feel happy but completely angry. The only conclusion I really understood was basically if I can complete a task in less than a minute, get up and do it now. This strategy really works in a number of ways, including that I don’t forget the task as I have jumped and completed it and feel happy. I can delete that job from my “to do” list.

The rest of the book focused (in my mind) on cleanliness: cabinets, shelves, storage rooms, and indeed the entire house. And of course, house cleaning spills into cleaning the office, classroom, or company vehicle, or maybe even fixing things in a public area. Cleaning, it seems, is contagious and sets the cleaner on fire to do more and more. The only remedy is more cleaning. Cleaning is also supposed to make me happy. Bah! was my first reaction to such nonsense. If the happiest thing I can be is cleanliness, well, happiness is pretty overrated.

Deciding to give this project a second chance, today I tested this theory of happiness. With my husband on the road, I had the time, energy, and determination to delve into a much-needed housecleaning. I started before the sun rose and even skipped reading the morning paper. With coffee in hand, I began the cleaning of happiness. I chose the room because it would be the easiest and fastest. With garbage bags, mops, dusters, and cleaning fluids, I was thrown into a frenzy of activity. I moved furniture, dusted, threw away, rearranged the shelves, and boy did I feel better.

I moved into my son’s room, following the same routine in addition to the pitching part. After all, your garbage is your garbage. I just needed to feel good, not destroy her serenity. Mainly, your room is filled with dog hair from a short-haired dog that sheds mounds and chunks throughout the year. This furry mess is disgusting and a bit overwhelming unless you have a strong stomach and fierce resolve. From there I went to the office, the storage room, the bedrooms and then the living room. The kitchen received a meticulous cleaning as did the bathrooms. Then the windows came and I washed them inside and out with meticulousness and delight. It’s hard to believe that this cleaning job has brought me so much joy.

Then I attacked the courtyard with vigor and energy. I cut, watered bad spots, and dug dandelions and other nasty weeds. I loaded garbage bags into the van for a dump with a separate pile for donation. Between jobs, I had delicious leftovers and lots of water and iced tea, and at 6 pm, twelve hours later, things were sparkling. I suppose there is some wisdom in house cleaning and yard work. Although I am currently exhausted, I can look around my house and feel very proud, also I know that tomorrow I will be able to find things as the closets are organized and my desk has open spaces. Or maybe in the morning I’ll kick myself for dropping treasures as I dig into my rearranged chaos and then remember why this happiness thing had made me so mad!

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