I’ve recently found myself with a new guilty pleasure – a genre I refer to as “medical reality television.” These are shows about people who have various physical ailments and their pursuit of treatment to make things better. I’ve seen everything from foot problems to skin issues to infectious diseases. While each episode and situation is different, there are some common themes:
- People around the world are enduring some pretty difficult circumstances
- Many people suffer untreated for years, either because of a lack of resources, a lack of trust in the medical establishment, or embarrassment
- Medical conditions are often more complex than they initially seem
- There isn’t always a cure
Regardless of the situational specifics, the best part of watching these shows is getting to see the reactions of the patients after they receive treatment. Their faces are brighter, they feel more confident, they resume old pastimes, they start new jobs, they return to social settings from which they had withdrawn, and more. Seeing these individuals, who have suffered for so long, finally receive relief truly warms my heart.
Similarly, it has been interesting for me to see that patients are joyful, even when their results fall short of what the world might define as ideal. For instance, a man had to have his large toe removed because the problem was too sever to repair, but the fact that he could now walk without pain was enough to make him very happy. Another woman who had been living with a legion of painful cysts was delighted with having the largest ones removed, even though smaller ones remained. One man was willing to undergo months of discomfort to achieve only an 80% improvement in his ability to breathe.
The headline seems to be, “somewhat better is still better.” Quality of life – even if it falls short of perfection – nonetheless ushers in celebration and gladness.
So what does all of this have to do with organizing?
Many times we avoid taking action on troubling situations because we think we won’t be able to achieve the “right” result. I imagine our idea of what “right” is probably comes from TV, magazines and social media. Unfortunately, comparing our situation to those we see in optimized images can be both discouraging and demotivating. When we avoid making changes because we see our potential progress as falling short of what we idealize, we end up stuck in a rut of dissatisfaction. Rather than compelling us to do our best, perfectionism can prevent us from trying to do anything at all.
An alternate choice is to pursue approachable and achievable changes that can make our living and working situations relatively better. For example, maybe we can’t afford a large, walk-in closet with a sofa and overhead lighting, but we may be able to clear away some shoes and clothing that we aren’t wearing, shift things around a bit, and greatly improve the way we store, find and access our clothing. Maybe we don’t have a full mudroom with spacious cubbies and a built-in dog crate, but we can probably purge accumulated piles, add some hooks and/or shelves to the space we do have, and improve the look and feel of our entry.
While it may not be realistic to completely achieve a “dream space,” it may be possible to make enough of an upgrade to significantly enhance your quality of life. Something as simple as a well-ordered kitchen drawer can bring a smile multiple times a day. Just as the patients in the reality shows I watch are delighted by positive changes, we also can find pleasure in incremental improvements to the way we organize our time, space and belongings.
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Is there a space in your home that is worth trying to make relatively better?