A happy home and an orderly home can come hand in hand

That's the message of our happiness expert, who writes that something as simple as keeping a tidy bed can make your whole family happier.

Melanie Stetson Freeman / The Christian Science Monitor
Taking care of chores can help maintain a happy home. Children cook breakfast in bed for Mother's Day. from the left: Ian, Elizabeth, mother Nancy Marshall holding Charlotte, and William.

When people tell me they’ve done their own happiness projects, I always ask, “What resolutions did you try? What worked for you?”

One answer comes up more than any other. I’m not saying that this is the most significant thing you could do to boost your happiness, but it does seem to be a thing that people actually do–and that boosts their happiness.

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This most popular resolution? To make your bed.

Now, it’s true that some people thrive on a little chaos. They find a disorderly room to be comfy and casual. When one of my friends was growing up, her mother made such a big deal of keeping the house clean that now my friend has gone far in the opposite direction. Very far. Most people, however, even if they may find it tough to keep things tidy, prefer to live in orderly surroundings.

It’s a Secret of Adulthood: for most people, outer order contributes to inner calm.

If you love a calm environment, making the bed is one of the quickest, easiest steps to cultivate a sense of order. Also, I get a real feeling of accomplishment from having completed this small task. It’s nice to start the day feeling that I’ve crossed something – however minor – off my list. It starts me off feeling productive, disciplined, and efficient.

Especially if you’re feeling overwhelmed, picking one little task to improve your situation, and doing it regularly, can help you regain a sense of control. Making your bed is a good place to start. It might help you build momentum to keeping other, more significant resolutions.

The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best family and parenting bloggers out there. Our contributing and guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor, and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. Gretchen Rubin blogs at The Happiness Project.

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

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