‘I am never 5 minutes into stripping the clutter from my life before I start running into the clutter that is my life.’ Robert Brault
I returned to Japan for the first time as an adult when I was 21. It was exciting, strange, and familiar .. all at the same time. It let me piece together the distant memories of my early childhood in Kobe – a very happy time of my life.
I was introduced to so many extended family members during those six weeks. But I felt closest, and most connected to my obasaan, my grandmother. There was something so completely authentic and real about her.
She lived modestly in one small room that she kept simple, clean, open, and spacious. It magically transformed to serve many functions throughout the day – as a living room, breakfast, lunch and dining area, and then it turned into a bedroom at night. The bathroom was down the hall, and the bathhouse was a block down the street. She lived modestly, and her life was filled with simple rituals. Some were religious—she had her daily Shinto practices. Some were simply part of her daily routine. Both seemed equally important to her, and both were done with the same dedication and focus.
She got up dawn and stood outside her door, greeting everyone as they walked or bicycled past on their way to work. I can still hear her calling out “Ohayo gozaimasu! Ohayo gozaimasu!” .. “Good Morning! Good morning!”
.. as if handling a sacred object
Her closet and storage space was as neatly organized as her room, even though it was filled with all her things.Whatever she brought out from there she handled with great care, and loving attention. Everything had its place, everything had its use, and she could find whatever she was looking for in an instant. At the back of her closet she kept her treasures, her precious memorabilia that she had no space to display in her tiny room. But she would bring them out to show us. She unwrapped each item with great care, and then stored it away again afterwards as if she were handling a sacred object.
That visit to Japan, even though I have visited many times since then, is still vivid in my memory, and I look back on it with a tender heart.
When I think of my obasaan, I think of a life well-lived. She certainly saw her share of tragedies, living in Kobe through the Second World War. She had suffered a lot in her life, but if she showed it, it was through the simplicity, patience, and kindness that she brought to everything. It was as if her suffering was a way to shed the past. She is still an example for me, of someone who chose to live a life free from unnecessary clutter and negative baggage.
Have nothing in your home that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful. William Morris
My grandmother is my model of how someone can live so that their environment, and everything in it, directly reflects and reinforces their happiness.
What about your physical surroundings, the objects you choose, and the rituals you use, formal or otherwise, conscious or otherwise? What do they encourage in you? How do they support you?
Think about your work-space, your home, and the places you hang out. What feelings and qualities do they reinforce? What about the places where you go to volunteer your services, where go for entertainment, where you go for spiritual guidance?
Do the places you visit support feelings of peace and happiness? Do they energize and enliven you; or do they make you feel frustrated, negative, or simply numb? Do they drain you of energy, or do they enliven and replenish you?
Who you are is up to you
We should never forget how important it is that where we we spend our time has a huge impact on us. It always reinforces associations, good or bad. It becomes an anchor. A positive environment gives you strength and resilience for when you find yourself in less conducive places or situations. It also reinforces the mental qualities that determine who you are, as well as the outcomes and the results you get in your life.
One of the things we teach is how to use rituals as anchors, to help you create consistently resourceful states of mind. Because your state of mind is essential for you to achieve the results you want.
For example, do you start your mornings by pressing the snooze button? I know someone who sets several alarms, and never wakes up to any of them. It is as if they are saying, ‘Duck! here comes another day!’ or ‘I don’t ever want to really wake up!’
For my grandmother her morning ritual brought good feelings, for her and everyone else, standing in the doorway every day, calling out, “Ohayo gozaimasu! Ohayo gozaimasu!” .. “Good Morning! Good morning!”
Creating Rituals and Anchors
We live in a world of the senses, infused by feelings and thoughts. You can create a ritual, a positive anchor through associating something you do or experience through any of the five senses. How you do it is simple, my grandmother knew how instinctively.
There are more complex and powerful ways to use anchors that we teach our clients: for example, to transform a persistent negative emotion into a positive one, or to turn procrastination into a strong impulse to take action.
People who take our NLP trainings learn ways to establish resource anchors, rituals that in a matter of a couple of minutes or a few seconds, can change your emotional landscape completely.
My Grandmother died at the age of 89. Her neighbors were so used to hearing her morning greeting that when she was not on her doorstep one day, they looked in, to find that she had passed peacefully in the night.