What Trivial Habit Gives a Giant Boost of Happiness?Is it…getting enough sleep?

Yes, but that’s not what I’m thinking of.

Is it…getting some exercise?

Yes, but that’s not what I’m thinking of.

Give up?

It’s….putting things away in the proper place! Zoikes, this (admittedly fairly insignificant) habit gives a disproportionate boost of happiness.

12 Comments to
What Trivial Habit Gives a Giant Boost of Happiness?

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  1. I like the theme and reasoning of this article, but would love to enter a discussion regarding the mental ‘damage’ caused by one of the opposites, such as waiting for a computer to do something.

    This easily negates any boost actions of control may offer by totally robbing one of any control.

  2. OW! You are right – and as a chronically messy type who is struggling to 1)get rid of stuff, and 2) have places for everything, so that 3) everything (well, most things) can be put in place, I came to believe that changing my habits would save me aggravation, give me time for better activities, and would at least allow me to represent myself as a real adult (at 64). One warning – if you decide to change a designated place for something, say batteries are were more or less usually stored in the top left kitchen drawer but have been relegated to a pantry shelf — write it down — because some of us forget the new home, and then get very unhappy tracking the relocated item.

  3. Haha wow, that was a bit unexpected. The more I think about it though, the more it makes sense. I guess we really admire neat and organized people, so when we see ourselves exhibit such behavior as putting things away, it gives us a boost of happiness that is disproportional given the little effort it took to induce it.

  4. I hate to put a downer on this and to display such wanton negativity, but what about the self-loathing that will come in a couple of weeks time when you notice that everything is awry once more? ;) Or would that just be what happens to me?

  5. For a few weeks, I kept a “journal of happiness,” writing down those daily activities that gave me some sense of satisfaction and raised my level of hapiness. Then I rated each. The activities that gave me the highest ratings were invariably those involving keeping order in my life, to include housekeeping, tending to my indoor garden, and putting things in their proper place. Now this may tell more about me as a person than it does about society in general. But…whatever works!

  6. Has anyone heard of flylady.net? It’s an idiosycratic and wonderful website that you can use to regain control over what they call “chaos” (Can’t Have Anybody Over Syndrome)and procrastination in a non-judgemental, sweet, and functional way. I stumbled onto it halfway through university (I was 43 – talk about procrastination) and it literally saved my life.

    There are tips for beginning to take control, and you can set it up to email you little reminders and ideas. I went from being filthy and frustrated to tidy and organized, and it changed EVERYTHING for me, including my ability to write multiple papers for school while working and raising two teenaged boys as a single mom. I ended up winning multiple scholarships while earning two degrees, and my kids ended up liking me a whole lot more too!

    The key with flylady (which stands for “Finally Loving Yourself” is to start with ONE thing. I did nothing but wash my dishes and clean off my counters every night for a week, and every morning I would wake up, see that sink and counter and smile. Then I made my bed when I got up for a week too, so every night I would see my tidy bed and smile. Soon I was smiling first and last thing every day.

    Here is the link to their “beginners” page.

    http://www.flylady.net/pages/begin_babysteps.asp

    It really is a little different there, and can be overwhelming if you let it be, so don’t. My sister went to the site and printed out every page to read later, and ended up with more clutter, no progress, and resentment of me for the bad idea.

    Just do ONE thing, then enjoy that thing. The site taught me the power of a simple routine, and it literally and figuratively saved my life.

  7. Did someone say redundant purchases?! I have a knack for buying what I already have. I call it the “refigerator magnet effect” — the inability to see things, or know that you have them after a period of time. How many meals had me reaching for dinner plates with the flour sifter sitting right next to them, yet last Christmas when I went to bake…you guessed it, I have 2 flour sifters now; one for each time i’ve ever used one.

  8. Think its a totally cultural necessity. Guess Americans/Canadians get a kick out of tyding up things. Latin America its a different way of thinkin.

  9. What about when you decide that an object has *no* place in your life any more? Then you can experience the joy of throwing something away, simplifying your life.

  10. Yes.Having ADHD & having gotten treatment & learning how nice it can be to be organized & know where things are I do take great pleasure in being able to find things because I knew where to find them & I don’t attribute this new ability solely to the medicine but very importantly geting the diagnosis which helped me learn how to help myself. Morgana

  11. It’s true-having a place for everything & everything in place not only gives me the satisfaction of knowing that i am an organized person,but also saves me time,energy& annoyance.How irritating it is to spend one hour looking for an object when you could easily have enjoyed a favorite hobby in that hour!

  12. Totally agree with this article. I find tidying up incredibly satisfying and love being able to find anything easily. I live on my own and have my home just as I want it, I feel like I’m playing house, the novelty never goes away. I used to be very messy when living in places I didn’t like, but were all I could afford.

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