More enjoyable evidence and encouragement for those thinking of taking on the forces of perfectionism this year (in a random and chaotic way, obviously) – can be found in the book ‘Messy: The Power of Disorder to Transform Our Lives’ by Tim Harford, the Undercover Economist.

After years of laughing at the phrase ‘think outside the box’ I now realise, helped by Mr Harford, why these words have always sounded so silly.  I hadn’t thought to ask: why climb into the box in the first place?

For that is what imposing order, or controlling conditions, or assembling familiar chums as working teams does to us.

Comfort is increased, doubt is reduced (sounding attractive, huh?) and a delicious complacency warms everyone involved.

Disorder is uncomfortable. And that’s the point.

Strangers make us behave differently. We listen more, are more careful to refine and strengthen our thinking.   Anything ‘unexpected’ is source of stressful…energy, forcing different and new ways to approach the situation.

The random jolts us into making unusual connections and creating new answers.
Sure, it’s easier when everything is under control, when everything’s tidy.
But isn’t that ‘the box’?

The evidence mounts up that this is how habits become a tyranny.

Certain judicious obstacles, which a degree of disorder invites, really do help us all grow and do better.   And wouldn’t it be great to hear households ringing with parents’ voices shouting upstairs ..‘I’m not telling you again – untidy that room!’

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