I am in the process of selling my house and buying a new one. It’s the week before closing, most of my stuff has been moved into storage, and my adorable little house is nearly empty but for a few essentials. And it struck me….
Sitting in a cold, empty, echoing house is much lonelier than sitting in the same house surrounded by your warm memories.
And that got me to thinking about how much your home surroundings – your furnishings – affect your quality of life. We subconsciously judge our worth by our surroundings. Or, conversely, let our surroundings mirror our feelings of self-worth. And our surroundings have a profound effect on our mood. All of this adds up to increased (or decreased) happiness, confidence, and overall outlook.
So, here are my five tips for how to improve your outlook by changing what you look at.
Tip 1: You Are Worth the Good Stuff
Take a good look at the things you use every day. The things you may take for granted: towels, pots & pans, dishes & utensils, etc. If these things are threadbare, stained, broken, or in some other way sub-par, get rid of them. Being surrounded by old, broken, stained things sends a subconscious message that we are not worth better. And not only is that completely false and unacceptable, it’s also unnecessary – even if you’re on a tight budget. We live in an age where everyday items are very inexpensive to replace. I’m not talking about spending a gazillion dollars at a luxury store. I’m talking about the ubiquitous discount stores that offer quality items at ridiculously low prices. I’ve found brand new, good quality towels, pots & pans, and dishware for as little as $2-$3 each. Drying off with a torn, stained, threadbare towel every morning is a reminder that we’re not worth a new towel. Do yourself a favor and buy new towels. You are worth the investment.
Tip 2: Discover What Makes You Happy
Forget about what the ex-boyfriend or ex-husband used to like. Forget about the style your parents favored. Just because you liked it 20 years ago, doesn’t mean you have to like it forever. (I’m talking to you, country geese wearing blue scarves.) And just because HGTV says it’s on-trend doesn’t mean you have to have it. (Sorry HGTV – I still love you.) The point is – figure out what you like and what makes you happy, and surround yourself with those things. If a cluttered environment makes you stressed, pack away the knick-knacks and pictures and leave your horizontal surfaces blissfully unadorned. If looking at sparse spaces makes you feel lonely – load ‘em up with things that bring you joy. Don’t be afraid to be brutally honest. You might think you are a modern girl and should therefore embrace a contemporary style. But if antiques and vintage make your heart flutter – embrace it! Your home is your sanctuary, and should be filled with things that make you smile.
Tip 3: Surround Yourself with Wonderful Memories
Remember that teddy bear your ex-boyfriend won for you at the county fair two years ago? You know, the one you haven’t thrown away because you had such a great time with him…..before he smashed your heart into a million pieces by sleeping with your coworker, that is? Get. Rid. Of. It. So, you had a great time at the fair. So what? The negative messages that bear subconsciously taunts you with aren’t worth the one good memory. Instead, start making new happy memories for yourself. Don’t wait for another significant other to start making memories – get out there and make them for yourself! Treat yourself to a trip somewhere and bring home something that will always remind you of that experience. Take an art or sculpting class and fill your space with your own creativity. Haunt thrift stores and find things that make your heart sing. Cultivate a library of memories, and then fill your space to reflect them.
Tip 4: Daily Affirmations Are a Must
Surround yourself with reminders of how awesome you are. I know that sounds a bit narcissistic. But in a world that still insists on judging a woman’s worth by her marital status and whether or not she’s had children, we need to remind ourselves how amazing we are. Especially without a significant other to tell us how pretty/smart/funny/whatever we are, we need to be our own cheerleaders. Tape a daily affirmation to your bathroom mirror so you see it (even if only subconsciously) every morning.
Tip 5: No One is a Rock, No One is an Island
OK – you guessed it, I love Simon & Garfunkel. But, putting my love for them aside, they do make a good point. If we have been wounded in the past, it is tempting, and often seems easier, to shut ourselves off from people – to isolate ourselves and build walls around our hearts so we don’t have to suffer the pain of being hurt again. And while it may feel safer to turn ourselves into a metaphorical rock, an untouchable island – the reality is that a rock does feel pain and an island often cries. Living alone we run the risk of getting too comfortable in our little fortress of solitude, and then we eventually eliminate the support structure of friends and family who help us weather the bad times. People sharing your space bring as much life and light and warmth to your home as your treasured items and fond memories. So, open your doors (the literal doors of your home, and the metaphorical doors of your heart) and let people in. Share your space, share yourself, and embrace the love that inevitably will come pouring in.