This spring, let's look at the process of renewal and rebirth in a whole new way. This can be the time to tackle clutter, improve our health habits, and renew our spirit in preparation for a new and better you.
Every year, the Easter Bunny comes to our house. He hides baskets in closets, cupboards, the washing machine, and any other hiding spot he can think of. My girls can barely sleep the night before knowing that a treasure hunt awaits them.
While the Easter Bunny brings the magical fun, my girls recognize that, for Christians like us, the real celebration centers on the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Easter is not just about marshmallow chicks, pink flowers, and new dresses—it's an opportunity to reflect on the past year and rejuvenate our lives. Here are three ways that we can clear out the clutter and make room for new growth.
1. Get Rid of Time Clutter
Nature's process of renewal is beautifully simple. Things happen naturally, over time. Just as certain as plants and spring blossoms follow a natural cycle, so should we. We need to recognize there is a time to focus on each task and compare to our available time.
"Sometimes we are admonished to remember that we are human "beings," not human "doings." Wrote authors Sarah Felton and Marsha Sims in their book, Organizing Your Day. "But people are designed to be doers, to accomplish significant things during our time on earth. What we actually hate is to choke our lives up with low-priority activities that mean nothing at the end of the day. We recoil from wasting our lives on a myriad of things that have little or no significance in the long run."
This is not an easy task for me—I'm one of those people who have a hard time saying "no" to anything. But one day, my husband, Jeff, said something that literally changed my life. "Amy, you know that when you say 'yes' to something, you're by default saying 'no' to something else," he said. "Don't say 'no' to our family." Those words stopped me in my tracks and made me want to recommit to only engage in high-priority activities. That way, I can cultivate more important, enriching relationships and a life free of anxiety, stress and depression.
2. Get a Healthy Body Image
The positive effects of healthy eating and daily exercise are often immediate. Your entire family will enjoy more energy, improved concentration and a stronger, healthier mindset for better time management. As Dr. Andrew Weil wrote in his book, Spontaneous Happiness, "It should come as no surprise that physical and emotional health are intertwined and impossible to tease apart. Changes in one always correlate with changes in the other."
But for this year at least, I'm going to focus on accepting my body as it is.
"The reason we dislike the body is not because of what it looks like, or how it is, but because we are not connected to it, not in touch with it," wrote John Ruskan in his book, Emotional Clearing: Releasing Negative Feelings and Awakening Unconditional Happiness."Being alienated from and disliking the body, we think the fault is in the body, and we strive to change the body. We are looking in the wrong direction. The fault is in our attitude toward the body, and if this basic attitude is not corrected, we will never be happy with the body, no matter what it looks like."
A major component in physical rebirth and renewal is acceptance. So I'm going to concentrate on appreciating the body that God gave me, not picking it apart with criticism.
3. Clear the clutter and make room for new
There is a reason why spring cleaning is an enduring task for many. The act of physically releasing the physical and emotional clutter from our lives opens up new opportunities for improved relationships, more gratifying friendships, better communication, improved plans for accomplishing goals, and building a strong values-supported foundation.
The spirit cannot expand when it is cramped between storage boxes and furniture. The heart cannot move forward when it is buried in things from the past. Joy and enlightenment can get lost amid the knick knacks. Clear the pathway.
"If you love it or you use it, it's not clutter," explained author Ellen Phillips in her book, Kick the Clutter: Clear out Excess Stuff Without Losing What You Love. "However, if you find yourself clinging to everything on the basis that you love or use it, you're probably deceiving yourself."
This year, I'm going to mend relationships that prevent me from living fully and let relationships go that fracture my spirit.
By simplifying our priorities, rewarding our bodies with acceptance, and clearing the clutter to make room for the new, we are celebrating the gift of Easter as a time of renewal and rebirth for a promising and healthy future.
Dr. Amy Osmond Cook received her Ph.D. from the University of Utah in Communication. She is Dir. of Provider Relations at North American Health Care and taught writing, communication, and marketing classes at ASU, BYU, and Univ of Utah.