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Decluttering your Mind

Spring Cleaning is a tradition that many jump into wholeheartedly once the warmer weather resurfaces, especially in the Northeast. I am not one of those people, however! Spring, for me, is jam-packed with a new bloom of sports schedules to tend to. So, I do my best to declutter throughout the year, leaving minimal projects for the sunnier days. I apply this method of continual decluttering not only to my house, car, and yard but also to my mind. Yes, more important than the physical space you surround yourself with is the physical space that is you! If you've never really brought awareness to decluttering your mind, please read on for some helpful tips for any season.

What is occupying your mind space?

I've talked about practicing mindfulness in the past, bringing conscious awareness to your thoughts, feelings, and interpretations of a current situation to make decisions that are better aligned with your authentic self. This is not only about pausing at a specific moment; it's about what is occupying your mind much of the time. This is about distinguishing if what's swirling around are positive signals or simply noise. This sorting process is the decluttering that can result in much mental freedom!

What is the difference?

Positive signal – accurate, reliable information notifying you of valuable opportunities, resources, or possibilities about succeeding in your goals.

Noise – any information that is negative, false, or unnecessary or any information that prevents you from perceiving success as a possibility.

The critical question to be asking is: Is this useful or not? This needs to be asked of both external and internal signals. Our minds are chatterboxes, yet just because it's coming from within doesn't make it accurate, reliable, or helpful!

Why is this important?

Multiple studies cited in The Happiness Advantage show that picking up on positive signals can help you make better decisions, be three times more creative, generate 37% more sales, improve your health, increase your productivity by 31%, be ten times more engaged and 40% more likely to get a promotion.

That, to me, sounds worth it! The challenge is that many of these positive signals get buried beneath layers of noise. Layers we both consciously and unconsciously build.

Sort it out.

It may seem easy to separate positive from negative, yet you know that is just not reality! Sometimes, a negative can inspire you to move toward a positive change. And a positive could be negative if it distracts or pushes you away from your goals. This is why digging deeper with intention is vital. Here's a guide I learned to help distinguish if the information is noise:

· Timely? – Is it the right time to be focusing on this? There is a time for everything, and we can easily mix those times up if we're not paying attention. My daughter loves to read books which is lovely, except when it's time to finish breakfast because we need to be at school soon. It's not the proper time to be reading. Another untimely example is if you're focusing on something where the information may change by the time you use it, such as checking the weather forecast continually for a trip three weeks out.

· Hypothetical? – Is this information based on what someone else believes "could be," or is it "what is"? That weather you were checking; it's hypothetical. Our minds love to swim deep in the hypothetical oceans; be careful not to get lost at sea!

· Usable? – Will your behavior be altered by the information? Most of the information we are taking in, especially with our overwhelming use of social media, is unusable in our everyday lives. Even factual news stories (such as natural disasters or high-profile lawsuits, marriages, gossip), unless you are an active part of the story or the solution, it is noise. Can you use this information in a way that positively impacts your life?

· Distracting? Does it distract you from your goals? If what you're taking in doesn't relate to your goals and moves you closer to achieving them, it is moving you away by default. You are never static in life!

I find acronyms helpful, so I arranged the order to spell out THUD! You could rearrange it in a way that works for you; know that processing through this will take practice. An essential prerequisite for this is to be clear on your goals so you can sort the signals effectively. Filter through your daily patterns, habits, and routines too. You may be surprised at what you discover piled up in the corners!

Rearrange your space.

It's not just that you need to remove noise; you must also replace that now vacant space with positive intentions, affirmations, and energy. Mindfulness is a helpful tool. It recognizes what was there without judgment, filtering through THUD and then replacing or reinforcing it with a positive signal which moves you in forward momentum. This is a process that needs to be repeated again and again.




Spring Cleaning at its finest all year long! If you need help with this process, sign up for a complimentary Discovery Session so we can customize a plan to support your goals.

*The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology that Fuel Success and Performance at Work, Shawn Achor (Crown Business, 2010).

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