So we had guests for lunch. It normally takes me just a few minutes to get myself presentable, but I was slowed down by my bedroom which was unusually messy: unmade bed, clothes books, manuscripts and make up mirrors strewn around. Looking at it made me stressed, and I realized that, when I entered it after lunch, to read in bed or nap, I’d immediately get stressed.
So though I hadn’t yet been down, having left the cleaning, cooking and tidying to Roy, with some help from Irene, I decided to take ten minutes to tidy my room and invest in “mental wealth”. And that was all it took to get it tidy. A ten minute bridge between stress and peace.
John Bailey, in his biography of Iris Murdoch, reports that Iris picked up a book and started reading that moment she entered the house. That is one of the benefits of a decluttered house and life. Your mind is clear. You enter a room and begin reading.
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Achieving or increasing monetary wealth does not particularly fascinate me. I am far more interested in mental wealth. Shalom, peace.
And so I am working on a massive decluttering project, trying to get rid of everything neither beautiful nor useful, so that each room exudes blessedness and peace, just as my sleeping collie Jake does, rather than chatters and nags me, like a living To-Do list. For that’s what visual clutter does!
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My other mental wealth practices: Gardening, which I enjoy, and which induces a euphoric change of state in me. It’s mainly a time for praise or prayer (interspersed sometimes with nagging Roy, or tearing hair at undone tasks). I have let my garden (one and a half acre) go, so getting it pretty again is a challenge, but one I enjoy!
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I never thought I would be typing this, but long walks (2-4 miles) also induce a euphoric “change of state.” I pulse with endorphins, I think clearly, I feel great. When I return to my laptop, I can write fast and for long hours, and happily. It’s a manifestation of the goodness of God isn’t it, that something so simple should bring so much joy?
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Brene Brown in Daring Greatly says that our numbing activities (over-eating, over-work, screens, shopping) stem from our craving connection with our family and friends, an ache we misdiagnose. So when I feel restless, I spend more time with my family, or arrange to meet-up with a friend, and, yeah, that certainly shores up mental wealth.
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Richard Foster suggests discovering prayer as a recreational activity. And perhaps it is the finest.
Prayer as relaxation. Just letting your thoughts unscroll as they will, and bringing them to God one by one. Presenting your random dreams, hopes and wishes to God, and chatting to him about them.
Or doing nothing at all, just waiting, and seeing what He might say. At times, I get restless and bored. At other times, I think it is the most interesting thing there is! Playing in the fields of the Lord!