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Articles devoted to organizing urge us to purge, clean, donate, sift, and to continually reconfigure our space. Recent trends include Marie Kondo’s essentials of tidying and “how to” of possession management; minimalist “less is more” purge mentality, and room makeovers that accommodate the desire of employees to work from home.

A singular focus on organizing “stuff” risks ignoring the parts of ourselves that most often remain unkempt—our inner selves that may be a tangle of unresolved grievance, failure to extend forgiveness, resentment, gossip, meddling in others’ affairs, judgment, or rumination on the imperfections of others. This seemingly endless mind chatter solidifies the neural pathways that train us to focus on the very things we don’t want.

Author G. K. Chesterton states “the human intellect is free to destroy itself.” Inflating ourselves prior to a potential conflict churns negative feeling into a well spring of hate. The only person we have the power to change is ourselves. How can we be a little bit better in thought and behavior than the day before? The process goes beyond meditation, relaxation, or even cloistering ourselves in a monastic retreat. Looking at our souls means taking inventory of ourselves.

Michael Jackson’s Man in the Mirror suggests a personal change. Disturbingly, a Bronx Zoo exhibit displayed a single mirror behind iron bars with the caption, “The most dangerous animal in the world.” In Living Enlightenment, Cohen explains that the entity sitting on our mind’s throne is most typically ego – the garrulous, self-referential, demanding insistent voice that puts self-first, and that castigates those who get in its way.

How can we exit the hamster wheel of “me first?” How can we change the aperture of our mindset to create positive change?

  • Get our own house in order. Instead of ruminating on someone we can’t control, what if we instead looked inward and thought how to be a loving presence? Perhaps that person is present in our lives precisely to help us cultivate a more expansive world view.


Chesterton, G. K. Orthodoxy. (1995). San Francisco: Ignatius Press.

Cohen, A. (2002). Living Enlightenment. Lenox, Massachusetts: Moksha Press.

Horoszowski, M. (2015). Surprising benefits of volunteering.


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All viewpoints expressed by Jackie Gilbert are her own, and not of her employer.

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