Clean Up Your Own Mess

“Think what a better world it would be if we all – the whole world – had cookies and milk at about 3 o’clock in the afternoon and then lay down with our blankies for a nap.” –Robert Fulghum

The inspiration for this theme (and the phrasing) comes from the classic Robert Fulghum essay, “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.” If you aren’t familiar with the essay, and even if you are, please take a minute to read it by visiting this link, or take a look at the book in which it was published.

In the essay, Fulghum says that everything needed for a meaningful and compassionate life is contained in the lessons of kindergarten. For this theme, I’ve taken just one of these lessons and am encouraging you to make it the focal point of your kindness practice for a week. In short, pay attention to how cleaning up your own mess is one of the kindest things you can do, especially for those people closest to you.

For instance, clean up the kitchen after each meal or snack, put your clothes away, make your bed each day, change the toilet paper roll, and whatever else you need to do to clean up after yourself. In practice, there are countless opportunities to do this each day.

Expand the concept by thinking about the metaphorical messes you make and clean those up, too. In the essay, the lesson prior to this one is “Put things back where you found them.” Consider this an extension of cleaning up your messes and be thinking of it in terms of cleaning up after yourself, illustrated in actions like returning your grocery cart to where you got it.

If you are so inspired, please inspire others by posting your experience in the comments section below.

2 Comments

  1. Just read an article in the newsletter from my grandson’s private school, which seems to fit so well with your post!! The article notes the Spanish language has a word for the kind of culture Fulghum describes… “Think what a better world it would be if we all – the whole world – had cookies and milk at about 3 o’clock in the afternoon and then lay down with our blankies for a nap.” –Robert Fulghum

    “Sobremesa… “Defined as the digestive period that allows for the slow settling of food, gossip, ideas and conversations, it is also a sybaritic time; a recognition that there is more to life than working long hours and that few pleasures are greater than sharing a table and then chatting nonsense for a hefty portion of what remains of the day.”

    That a private school recognizes that its students need fun, relaxation, silliness, and hard work is fantastic… I am sure Andy that you promoted such things in your school… you inspire me every time I read a post of yours!

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