Some of us like to do spring cleaning. It de-clutters the house. What if the same principles were applied to our lives? A soured relationship, a bad habit, even a messy social media page may need some cleaning up. As psychologists would say, it's all about clearing the clutter. Apparently, spring is the perfect time.
One reason spring is right for "top-to-bottom" cleaning is because windows can be opened . That allows chemicals and dust to escape. Psychologist John Gampher says we need to create an opening for the toxins in our life to escape as well. There are practical ways to get a clean start.
Gampher says spring cleaning our lives boils down to one concept.
"It's all about reinforcement. It's about that good feeling that you get from something, which is reinforcement," he said.
Focusing on the end result, and how it makes you feel, encourages the behavior that gets the positive results. In the case of spring cleaning a living space, Gampher says keep it practical.
"If you're cleaning out a room, clean out room that you go into frequently so that you get the reward. If you clean out a back closet, or a closet in your garage that you never go into, then you're never getting reinforced for that behavior, which is cleaning," he said.
For some, the problem isn't a particular space. Rather, it's about who shares time and space with them. Toxic relationships need spring cleaning too. Again, Dr. Gampher says focus on what is rewarding. Once again, it's the principal of reinforcement. Gampher says don't encourage that person's behavior, or requests for your time. He says try to gradually space out the time spent with a toxic person, or the time it takes to respond to their calls or texts.
"If you space it out, and then space it out further, and then space it out further, eventually they're not going to be rewarded for texting you and, thus, will stop texting you. You will have created distance without having to say anything negative to that particular person," he said.
Maybe it's your social media page that needs spring cleaning. Gampher says it's as simple as taking control of what you filter.
"Just like we would silence our phone when we're going to bed, you need to silence your social media at times when you don't want to get that information."
"You control what it is that you do. Choosing to do nothing is not the best idea. Choosing to do everything all at once is an equally bad idea. Choose the things that are going to give you the maximum reward."