I read a study once that said that people who make their beds every day are happier. I have thought of that study often; questioning its validity. How can you judge happiness, this is not a quantifiable thing? What significance does making a bed really have in the scope of the events in a day? I hardly spend any time in my bedroom during the day, why should it matter if the sheets are rumpled? But in the end, perhaps my questioning of the study is rooted in the sheer fact that my own bed goes unmade most days.
As I made the bed this morning, I again thought of this study. I was feeling particularly happy this morning. I had the time and space to spend a moment making the bed. I rarely get this. But I didn’t really have extra time. Rob was downstairs with our three, trying to get ready for work, eagerly awaiting my relief. So what made this morning different? My mood.
I spent a lot of time tidying up our house yesterday evening. My morning always seems better when I wake to a tidy home. We read once about the broken window theory, how in New York City if there is graffiti on buildings, the incidences of graffiti rise exponentially. The idea is that maintaining a sense of order creates a culture of order, and likewise with the reciprocal idea. I often apply the broken window theory to areas of my own life, finding it particularly applicable to the state of my home. If I have mounds of laundry in the corner (a frequent sight), it seems to give the children license to cover the floor in toys as well. If no one else is tidying up, then why should I? In addition, it seems like less work to tidy just one thing that is out of place, rather than tackling the whole mound. It is amazing, and difficult to admit how much my emotional state is affected by stuff.
Perhaps the bed making study wasn’t about making the bed at all. Perhaps what it really was measuring was that people who have space in their lives are the happiest. I have been working hard to simplify our lives, making our lives hold less so that there is room for more. My thoughts on making the bed this morning encouraged me to clear some more space. Get rid of more stuff. Reduce commitments outside the home. Clear away my unproductive thoughts. Decluttering life is a slow process, but unquestioningly worth while.