We live in a fairly predictable world. Almost everything is perfectly ordered and systematized. And the society is concerned to perpetuate the organization in every sense of the term.
In fact, in the West we love order and symmetry. This passion is revealed, for example, in our gardens and buildings, perfectly symmetrical. But in Eastern’ cultures symmetry is not so important, because they are aware that in nature is pretty rare. Buddhism, for example, teaches to accept and embrace chaos as an integral part of the universe.
From this point of view, order and symmetry are actually an illusion. An illusion that allows us to give a sense to the world eliminates chaos to some extent and generates certainty. Therefore, in our society disordered people are often stigmatized, we consider them apathetic, lazy or even unbalanced. But it’s not like that, or at least not always.
Three fundamental ideas about disorder and chaos that we must assume
- Chaos does not necessarily mean absence of order
We tend to think that chaos means lack of order. However, José Saramago broke with this stereotype saying: “chaos is an order yet to be deciphered”. In fact, order and disorder can be very relative concepts.
A seemingly messy desk, for example, can hide a priority system and a very efficient access. On these desks usually the most urgent things are closer to the person and at the top, and in such a way cannot be ignored. In other words, the fact that we do not understand how a person organizes the workflow does not mean that there is disorder.
- A little disorder fosters creativity
A study by researchers at the University of Minnesota found that environments saturated with things stimulate creativity. In one experiment, the psychologists asked participants to find new ways to use a ping pong ball. Half of them were asked to go into a tidy room, while the rest spent time in a messy room. Both groups presented the same number of ideas, but the most original ones came from those who had been in the messy room.
Everything seems to indicate that a bit of confusion around reminds us that the world is not as well structured and precise, and that breaking the rules and thinking differently is not so bad. This way the brain is free to make new associations and develop unconventional ideas, it is like mess encourages us to stop controlling so rigorously our thoughts, letting new ideas flowing.
- Disorder only indicates that there are different priorities
A few years ago were published photos taken by photographer Ralph Morse to the house of Albert Einstein, shortly after his death. One of them left the world speechless showing the mess that was in his office.
Of course, Einstein was not the only creative genius who worked surrounded by clutter, Mark Twain surpassed him, for example. Often the disorder shows simply persons who do not care to follow the status quo, people who appreciate spontaneity and are able to grasp the whole picture, without worrying about the details. These people prefer to invest their time elsewhere instead of worrying about making order around them.
An organized and perfect chaos
Of course, this article does not pretend to be a hymn to the disorder, although it seems. Nor it means that all disordered people can become creative geniuses. Behind disorder can also hide laziness and lack of discipline.
In fact, it is not to allow that all aspects of our lives turn into chaos. Sometimes order can be necessary, convenient and beautiful. The key is to find a chaotic order, or an organized chaos, which enables us to develop our full potential.
Vohs, K. (2013) Tidy Desk or Messy Desk? Each Has Its Benefits. Psychological Science.