This is the tenth and eleventh post in a series about living the virtuous life like Benjamin Franklin. We’re taking his life and applying it to marriage and relationships.
Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, clothes, or habitation.
Cleanliness carries with it a great pride as it develops one’s attention to detail, work ethic, and self confidence. Moreover, cleanliness facilitates the orderly development of one’s life. While the levels of cleanliness have shifted throughout history, striving for a clean life remains a virtue due to what it provides to your life.
Cleanliness makes your feel good. Regardless of whether the feeling is inherent, or created by social conditioning, keeping your body, clothes, and home clean feels undeniably great. A hot shower, your favorite clean shirt, and a well organized house make you feel ready to take on the world.
Cleanliness keeps your mind clear and your life organized. If your house is a total disaster, your thinking is going to feel similarly disorganized. There is something to be said for the concept of Feng Shui. There is an natural connection between the order of your environment and the state of your mind. Clutter will weigh you down and stress you out. A clean, well-organized environment will lift your spirits.
Cleanliness gives you a good image. How you present yourself in life is paramount. If you, your clothes, or your house looks like a disheveled mess, people are inevitably going to judge part of your character and personality on such evidence. Perhaps that is unfair, but it is how the world works. When you present a neat and clean appearance to others, they will respect and think highly of you.
Cleanliness leads to beauty. That which is neat, well-proportioned, and symmetrical creates beauty and appeals to the eye. As we transform our lives to be orderly and clean, we increase the amount of beauty in our lives.
To me, there’s nothing more beautiful and full of energy than a decluttered life and home – as I equate cleanliness with declutter.
Have nothing in your homes that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful. ~ William Morris
This same quote can be applied to life. Do nothing in life that doesn’t provide something useful or beautiful to it.
Start with your home. Clean. Declutter. Organize. This will create a home base to launch your day with more energy and a comfortable environment to return to in the evening. Then apply cleanliness to your desk, office, or work space. Then your calendar. If you apply this virtue to every area of your life, you’ll soon begin to feel lighter, more energetic, and more purposeful.
Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.
Coupled with cleanliness often is tranquility, as an ordered and clean life will be more calm and peaceful. Maybe not everything in life will be peaceful, but your inner life can be.
So how do you create a life of tranquility?
It begins with one word … Breathe.
Breathing can transform your life.
If you feel stressed out and overwhelmed, breathe. It will calm you and release the tensions.
If you are worried about something coming up, or caught up in something that already happened, breathe. It will bring you back to the present.
If you are discouraged and have forgotten your purpose in life, breathe. It will remind you about how precious life is, and that each breath in this life is a gift you need to appreciate. Make the most of this gift.
If you have too many tasks to do, or are scattered during your workday, breathe. It will help bring you into focus, to concentrate on the most important task you need to be focusing on right now.
If you are spending time with someone you love, breathe. It will allow you to be present with that person, rather than thinking about work or other things you need to do.
If you are exercising, breathe. It will help you enjoy the exercise, and therefore stick with it for longer.
If you are moving too fast, breathe. It will remind you to slow down, and enjoy life more.
And enjoy each moment of this life.
They’re too fleeting and few to waste.