Broken window theory and how it can help you have a more beautiful home
Many people may have a hard time understanding a connection between a theory about crime prevention and how they maintain their residences, but if we dig a little deeper, its easy to see that such a connection exists.
Broken window theory was proposed in 1982 by two social scientists. It stated that a building that had a few broken windows that weren’t fixed would be more likely to have more of its windows broken, and would inevitably spiral down into dereliction. The idea was that if things looked bad and were allowed to stay that way, the tide would continue in this direction until the process reached its end.
The social scientists wrote about the theory as a method of explaining why bad neighborhoods got worse over time, but also as a way to show how a small imperfection (when seen as part of the whole structure) could have large consequences by triggering a process.
We see the same thing with a more personal space, our email in-boxes. Once we allow an email to sit for a certain time, and it hasn’t been answered, the next email that comes along is now that much less likely to get answered, because the previous one sitting there has lowered the bar just a little bit. Soon, a third and a forth have joined it, and before we know it, gmail is showing 10,000 unanswered emails.
What has this got to do with a beautiful home? Extrapolating the idea further, we can imagine a newly built house that is immaculate from top to bottom. The owner has spared no expense in its construction and decoration, and has every intention of keeping the house well maintained and as clean as when he or she moved in.
But weeks pass and a small amount of oil begins to accumulate where they park their car. The oil seems into the virgin cement, and no amount of scrubbing will remove it. The owner shrugs, and accepts it as an inevitable part of life. Weeks go by and the oil spot gets bigger, and before you know it, the owner feels less and less pressure to keep the garage in its pristine state because the oil spot makes them feel like “why stress? It’s dirty anyway.”
Over time and garage falls into disarray and the house follows. A couple of years later the owner is thinking about building a new house, feeling like this one just got away from them somehow…
The creeping threat of lowering our standards is always with us. We must remain ever vigilant in maintaining the levels of quality and cleanness we have committed to.
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