Start a Virtuous Cycle to create a happier, more productive life.
In economics, there’s a theory known as the Vicious Cycle which refers to a negative event that triggers additional negative events which reinforce each other. Inflation is one example since it often leads to increased interest rates which undercut economic growth so unemployment grows and a recession occurs.
On the other hand, there’s also a Virtuous Cycle, in which a positive event leads to a series of other positive events which amplify the benefits of each other. A positive feedback loop, if you will. Increased consumer confidence, for instance, leads to more production which promotes job growth and that, in turn, improves new home construction.
Those are enormous simplifications of complex economic events, of course, but you get the point. In fact, you’ve probably experienced something similar in your life.
A terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.
Let’s say money worries kept you up one night, so the next morning you oversleep. To avoid being late to work and having your pay docked, you drive over the speed limit and get pulled over. The police officer issues you a citation, making you even later to work, only now in addition to getting your pay docked you also have the added expense of the speeding ticket. Oh, and it’s your third one this year, so your insurance rate will go up, too.
Like Alexander in the children’s book, you’ve had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day thanks to the vicious cycle.
Walking on sunshine and don’t it feel good?
On the other hand, you’ve probably had days when your life seems downright charmed. When everything has gone so wonderfully, you wouldn’t have been surprised if a bluebird landed on your shoulder and started chirping.
Maybe it began with an unexpectedly good hair day that prompted a fantastic mood, so you generously allowed an elderly man to cut in line ahead of you at the coffee shop. In gratitude, he paid for your latte which made you decide to buy one for a coworker you’ve been working with on a brutal project that just wrapped up. Later that day at the office, she gets a promotion and decides to pick you for her second-in-command which means you’re getting a raise!
You might think of it as luck when, in fact, it was a series of positive events reinforcing each other.
Harness the power of positive change.
You can put these feedback loops to work for you by making one small, positive change at a time. Since this blog is about getting one’s home under control, I’m going to focus on a series of positive changes that can help you do just that, but the same process can work for your health, too.
For example, taking five minutes in the morning to do some light stretching as soon as you wake up can lead to your body feeling less achy which, in turn, helps you move more throughout the day. Since moving more eventually increases our energy levels, you get to feeling good enough to take Fido for walks. As your pants start fitting better, you decide to choose healthier dinners, and soon you’re on your way to wearing your favorite pair of skinny jeans again. All this, because you set aside 5 minutes daily to stretch.
See? It adds up.
Start a Virtuous Cycle around the house.
I’ve said before that making your bed in the morning can change your life. That’s because it helps launch your day with a sense of accomplishment which leaves your bedroom looking orderly. From there, you start seeing other small steps you can take to establish even more order and banish clutter in your home.
Note that I used the phrase “small steps” for a reason. When you’re stuck in a vicious cycle it’s tempting to jump into a huge lifestyle change, so you give it your all for several days then something happens to derail your plan and, boom, you’re back into the vicious cycle again.
Don’t fall into that trap.
The Virtuous Cycle at Home
Make one change to your home routine that you can stick with for a week or two, one which doesn’t take an enormous amount of effort but which will leave you with a sense of accomplishment.
When that change has become part of your normal day, add another one and let it settle into your life for a while before adding the next. Over time, you’ll break the vicious circle and launch a virtuous cycle that will leave you feeling happier and more productive every single day.
- Make your bed each morning.
- Stop using electronics 1 hour before bed.
- Make a short To Do list to set your priorities for the next day.
- Go to bed 7-8 hours before you need to get up.
- Use homemade shower spray daily to prevent mildew.
- Do the breakfast dishes as soon as you’ve finished eating.
- Use homemade sink spray to clean and polish your sink daily.
- Wipe your kitchen counters between meals.
- Wash the dinner dishes instead of leaving them in the sink.
- Spend a few minutes picking up the living room after the kids are in bed.
- Run a Swiffer or carpet sweeper over high-traffic areas in the kitchen and living room after dinner. (Here’s my favorite carpet sweeper.)
- Pick up clothes from the floor and put them away or in the hamper.
- Do a load of laundry every day and put it away.
- Plan a week of healthy meals and create a grocery list to use.
- Make lunches the night before.
- Start following a Daily Cleaning Routine.
- Add a weekly cleaning routine one room at a time.
By the time you get to the bottom of the list, you’ll be amazed at the changes in your home and your happiness. Welcome to the Virtuous Cycle!
Need even more structure in a step-by-step plan? Get a copy of my book 30 Days to a Clean and Organized House — readers call it “life changing!”