Personal Environment vs. Peace of Mind

Alchemy is the process of changing lead into gold. Inner alchemy (personal transformation) occurs when we clear our clutter – internal and external – and let go of things that no longer serve us well. This creates balance and space, a place that nurtures contentment, which I believe is true success. ~ Laurie Buchanan

You know how it is. The demands of life, work, family and commitments crowd out other things that need done but aren’t urgent. Finally, you realize you just can’t stand it, that you can’t keep putting things off into the “I’ll get to it sometime” category. That’s often where we relegate housework and other tedious chores.

Here’s the problem. Your surroundings impact your peace of mind. Your work and living spaces do not just reflect your attitude, they influence it. Crowded, dusty, cluttered spaces lead to edgy, unsettled feelings.

David understood how essential environment was. As a shepherd boy, he led his sheep to lush surroundings with plenty of food, water and rest. He kept the flock well supplied and protected. When he wrote Psalm 23, he equated his care of the sheep with God’s care of us. Of his own personal environment, he wrote, “Surely goodness and mercy follow me. God restores my soul. My cup runs over!”

Do you feel blessed, surrounded by goodness and peace in your own personal environment? Do you feel content and at peace with your surroundings? Or, are there a number of undone things that you keep putting off?

When God created a space for His family, He declared it was all “very good!” Even today, we refer to beautiful, peaceful places as Eden’s. God wants His kids to live in beautiful, peaceful surroundings. Part of that peace and contentment comes from your internal attitudes but the other part comes from your atmosphere. So how do you create your own piece of Eden?

Look up. First, understand that peace is actually an inside job, and you can have it regardless of what’s going on around you. Jesus said, “My peace I give to you … don’t let your heart be troubled or afraid.” In other words, let go of all the ‘stuff’ that bugs you. Instead, seek peace and pursue it (Ps. 34:14). Pursue means to chase it, to go after it as something valuable and needed.

My husband gets aggravated at ‘stuff’: traffic, people, tools, his computer, the remote control. In a very real sense, he practices being angry and upset. None of those things are purposely trying to upset him but he allows them to. He forgets to pursue peace. It is possible, however, to take control of negative emotions and tell yourself, “No, I seek peace. I will not allow myself to get upset.”

Here’s a revelation: the devil knows exactly what buttons to push in your life to get to you. He sets you up to get you upset! Don’t give him that much power. You are at the center of your personal environment. Focus on God’s blessings and banish all those negative emotions.

Look around. Does what you see bless you?  Does it make you smile or feel ‘hugged’? Or do all the ‘things’ blend together into … clutter and chaos?

My mother collected angels and birds … and plates, and … When she passed on, I ‘inherited’ her collections. I brought them home, put them on a shelf (well, more than one!) and then had to dust them regularly. They weren’t things that blessed me—they were simply my mother’s and I wasn’t sure how to let them go.

Sometimes, we create emotional ties to physical things that become substitutes for relationships or spiritual peace. Letting go of my mom’s things didn’t change the relationship or the memories. Eventually, I gave away most of the collections, keeping only a few key pieces that really touched my heart. Now there there’s less maintenance, less clutter, and the pieces I do have make me smile.

Clutter is an outward sign of inward turmoil (plus an out-of-control schedule). How much of what you have do you really need? What if you down-sized, reorganized and eliminated some of the clutter. Think about it. Don’t you feel better after you’ve cleaned house? Doesn’t the fresh smell and visual appearance make you smile?

Look out. The things you are committed to affect your environment also. For instance, I’m on several committees for different organizations. Each of them involves meetings, documents, To Do lists and sometimes, personality conflicts. It’s easy to let your calendar get so cluttered with other people’s projects that you no longer have “me time”, peace time.

Here’s a hint: if what you’re doing no longer inspires you, it might be time to get out. There will always be groups and organizations that do good things and need both time and money. Maybe you got involved because a friend asked for your help. Maybe what you’re doing is a hold-over from long ago. Maybe it’s time to evaluate the blessing vs. stress of that particular commitment. Maybe it’s time to let go.

Look over. Walk into your home or office and look it over as if you were a stranger. Pretend you’ve not seen it before. What would you change? Maybe a new coat of paint or a new set of curtains would brighten the atmosphere. Rearrange the furniture. Add some ambient lighting. Put a new picture on the wall. Do something that makes your heart say, “Wow!” when you walk into the space.

Never underestimate the power of the Wow Factor. It’s an inner contentment that says, “This is beautiful. I’m comfortable here. This is my Eden. I want to spend time in this space.”

Hubby and I donate to several charities. One of them is Habitat for Humanity. Why” Because I think everyone should have and enjoy their home as much as we do ours. Home is haven, a personal Eden, and I know it is a blessing from God. The Bible says He gives us richly all things to enjoy (I Tim. 6:17). I try to maintain an atmosphere of peace and blessing, a comfort place that I want to come home to and friends want to visit.

Look In. Ultimately, your personal environment and your personal peace are an inside job. Your decisions, or lack of them, moment by moment, create your life and environment. You can choose to sit on the couch, or get up and do the dishes. You can ignore the clutter on the dining room table or make a decision to clear up the mess—and then keep it cleaned up! Take responsibility for the things that you do and shouldn’t … or the things you don’t do and should.

I like playing games on my tablet. It’s relaxing, and drowns out the clamor of worries and responsibilities. Problem? I can spend hours playing solitaire, and then realize that I really wanted to do the laundry and clean up the kitchen. My selfish choice now means I’ll have a dirty kitchen to look at when I get up in the morning and no clean socks! And no one to blame but myself.

Your personal environment and your peace of mind are a direct result of your choices and actions. Look at your attitude and let go of worry and turmoil. Look around you and make changes that are consistent with peace and contentment. Eliminate clutter in your environment and on your calendar. Then look around and declare, like God did, “This is very good!”

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