At this time of year, when the weather is generally fine across the planet, lots of people decide to make changes to the spaces where they live and sometimes also to where they work. New colors are painted onto walls and skylights installed. Older sofas are replaced with newer ones. New geraniums take over the windowsill space formally occupied by now crispy ferns.

Gradual, thoughtful design changes keep our lives interesting. They support our evolving relationships with the world in which we live.

Humans cherish the familiar and rapid, dramatic change is jarring, however. Being in a space that we’ve become accustomed to over time helps keep us happy and calm and bonds us to not only that place but also to the other people that spend time there. Too many changes, too fast in our world aren’t good for either our wellbeing or that of our planet.

Maintaining the established, keeping it in tip-top shape, is a good idea. Maintenance does nice things for our Earth, because energy and materials aren’t used to replace something we already have, and our minds. Keeping the should-be-shiny shiny and the should be dirt-free clean sends the message to both us and the other people that encounter our world that we respect and value who we are and the contribution we make to our society. Dirty, scuffed, and tarnished silently broadcasts the idea that we don’t care about living in our best possible world. Sure, some things are meant to acquire a fine patina over time, and that patina signals our connection with a cherished past. And sometimes there just aren’t enough resources—human or otherwise to keep everything in the worlds’ that belong to us free of water spots and dust—the important factor, the one that determines whether we get a psychological boost—or not—from the world we live in is a pattern of behavior and clear consistent effort. 

So, as you inspect your world, don’t just think about what you should be changing, also consider what you should be keeping. What around you tells the story of you in the way you’d like it to be told?  What in your world is sending silent signals you want others to receive—letting them know (and reminding yourself) that you’re an ardent conservationist, or a scholar, or a dedicated athlete, or something else? Make sure the important message senders are well maintained, so the tales they tell remain compelling and genuine. 

A dust cloth can be a powerful thing.

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