The House Shines, So Does My Mind

Cleaning is regarded as tiresome and trivial. But it changes a person, a family, and the world.

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“What is a real hassle among all housework?”

“What is physically the toughest housework?”

Gallup Korea questioned Korean housewives on domestic work and found that cleaning ranked no.1 for both of the two questions mentioned above. In a nutshell, house cleaning is recognized as a tiresome work and a hassle. So, people would have ever wished that someone else has already cleaned up every nook and corner of the house when they return home or imagined that someone would suddenly appear and dust off the shelves, sweep the floors, and mop until everything shines while they’re resting.

A strong detergent that removes dirt by just a gentle rub, a disposable damp house cloth, a vacuum cleaner that takes in fine dust, and even a robot cleaner that goes around to clean your house at the press of a button—many products are pouring out to make a cleanup easy, yet house cleaning is still like an unwelcome assignment.

You’re busy, you want to make yourself comfortable, it will be messy again, or you don’t care, and so on. Even though you postpone cleaning with many excuses, you will eventually raise a white flag and start cleaning, rolling up your sleeves. We can’t avoid cleaning forever. The things we use such as cars, refrigerators, beds, and air conditioners, and the spaces like houses, offices, schools, and roads are all to be cleaned up.

If you’re a bit careless with cleaning, it gets dirty soon, and even though you’ve done it with your best, it’s unnoticeable. It’s a task that never ends and you just have to do it like eating food on a daily basis. Then, is the cleaning really a hassle and a tiresome task?

A positive energy indwells a bright and pleasant place

A car with a broken window was left alone. People took away its parts such as battery and tires, and even smashed it later on. As the car became hideous, crimes arouse. This is the Broken Windows Theory.

Rudolph William Louis Giuliani, who was elected Mayor of New York in 1993, adopted this theory as a measure to stabilize security. He issued a policy of removing graffiti around subway stations, a hotbed of crime, and keeping them clean. Despite the opposite views that crackdowns on crime should be more tightened than cleanup, he focused on removing graffiti over the years. As a result, the number of crimes decreased by more than 70%, and the citizens could use the subway with an easy mind.

Tokyo Disneyland, the world of wonder and dreams, is famous for its cleanliness; the resort is clean enough for people to eat popcorn fallen to the ground. The cleaners called custodial thoroughly manage each area in charge; they clean up not because it has got dirty, but to prevent getting dirty. It is done with the belief that dreams and hopes cannot come true in messy places. Tokyo Disneyland with such entrepreneurial spirit boasts an annual average of 16 million visitors.

If you do not clean a place, dust piles up and it can get worms and stink. You come to waste your time searching for necessary things, and your health is threatened. If the place is a home, the family will be far away from happiness, and if it is a shop or a restaurant, the customers will be cut off. If it is a workplace, work efficiency will decrease, and if it is a school, students’ academic achievement will fall. In fact, Samuel D. Gosling, a professor at the University of Texas, who surveyed 83 dormitory rooms and rented rooms of college students and 94 offices, said that people living in clean rooms are more efficient, systematic, and creative than those living in messy rooms.

Masuda Mitsuhiro, who speaks about the power of cleaning, traveling around Japan, said, “When I visited many people, those living in a messy house often suffered family conflicts.” He added that while a dirty room generates a negative energy, a tidy room brings forth a positive energy and calls in happiness. This supports that the dirty place gets dirtier, and the clean place is kept clean.

Cleaning changes your mind

The reason Masuda Mitsuhiro preaches on the power of cleaning is because he himself experienced it. When he failed in business and suffered a family crisis, he was in helplessness and was at home with a pile of rubbish. Then, a friend of his visited with cleaning tools. Recommended by his friend, he cleaned his house together and his enthusiasm welled up. And he got a foot in the door of cleaning business and rebuilt his family. Cleaning even changed a person’s life.

When Ahn Chang-ho, a Korean independence activist immigrated to the United States, he saw his compatriots live miserably and cleaned up their houses and surroundings. When one of the compatriots asked him why he regarded cleaning as important, he replied, “Cleaning is the basics of life. When we equip ourselves with the basics well enough to clean at least our surroundings, can’t we expect further developments?”

Your mind comes to resemble visible things. Cleaning is not just an act of removing visible dirt, but a cleansing of mind. Dr. Lauren Napolitano, a psychologist, said, “Purging unused items helps you feel calmer about your stressors. A small project like organizing your kitchen junk drawer can lead to emotional organization.”

In 2002, a research team at the University of Minnesota surveyed the growth process of 84 persons in their 20s. It was found that those who did housework since age three to four were more likely to have good relationships with their family and friends and to succeed in many fields. It proves that they come to have confidence, a sense of responsibility, and insight through cleaning and errands. Your deed of cleaning seems like a work for others, but in fact, you yourself can gain more advantages.

If things do not go well or you get stressed, open the windows wide and clean the room first. There is nothing more effective than cleaning to refresh your mind. As Thomas Carlyle said, “In order to solve problems of life, sort out the sewing box first,” if you throw away unnecessary things and brush and wipe every nook and corner, your mind will be clear.

Cleaning is fun and exciting

When a president of the United States visited the National Aeronautics and Space Administration [NASA], he saw a janitor mopping the floor, humming a tune. The president approached him and asked, “Is cleaning so pleasant to you?” Then he replied, “I’m not just a janitor, but helping put a man on the moon.”

While you’re at the work, what is important is your mindset. If you regard everything as a chore, it is annoying and you are reluctant to do it; but if you discover its value and do it with a joyful heart, you will treasure it. Cleaning is the same. If you grudgingly do, complaining, “I’m sick and tired of cleaning every day!” you cannot expect any positive energy of cleaning, not to speak of finding it harder to clean. Also, you would never appreciate having a home to clean and feel happiness.

Cleaning is a way of comforting mind and body in a pleasant atmosphere, a silent expression of love, and a valuable thing that enriches the life of your family when they return home, exhausted. If you do with a pleasant and joyful heart, wherever your touch reaches at home, you will have affection for it. You will also give thanks for having the house where you can sleep and relax, and your family who shares the space becomes more and more precious to you. The positive power of cleaning will work a hundred times.

If parents seem to feel obliged to clean or force children to clean, nagging them, the children too are likely to regard cleaning as troublesome. In order to let children form a habit of cleaning from childhood and have a sense of community as a member of the family, parents should first show them how they enjoy cleaning.

As the family shares the house together, all the members should help clean the house. It is more meaningful if they set the time and take part in cleaning together without considering it as the duty of a certain member. The morning of the day is good for cleanup time, but it is better to set it according to the situation of the family. If possible, do it regularly. The order of cleaning should be from top to bottom (in order of ceiling, wall, and floor), and from outside to inside (door, screen, veranda, front door, living room, kitchen, bedroom, and toilet). If you keep unused items for long, no matter how hard you clean, the room looks cluttered. Therefore, it is recommended to dispose of unnecessary things from time to time.

A saying goes, “If you keep the house clean, all kinds of good luck will come in.” Sometimes, however, people are likely to make a mistake of neglecting their family by concentrating too much on the cleaning itself; when your child dropped cookie crumbs after you cleaned up with great effort, you might scold him severely for messing up the room.

The Book of Proverbs in the Bible says, “Where there are no oxen, the manger is empty, but from the strength of an ox comes an abundant harvest.” Oxen are more precious than the manger. The reason we should keep our house clean is because the persons who live in it are precious. If you keep this fact in mind, you will definitely experience the amazing power of such simple acts of mopping the floor, brushing the toilet, and cleaning the porch.