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  • Denise Frakes

One thing leads to another...

Have you ever heard of the broken window Theory? A few years ago, I was doing a green cleaning talk for the City of Fed Way. Reece from the city introduced me to this concept called the broken window theory.

The Broken Window Theory: " In 1982, James Q Wilson and George Kelling outlined broken windows theory, which posits that when a neighborhood allows physical manifestations of disorder, like broken windows and graffiti, to go unrepaired, it will then begin to experience social disorder, higher crime rates, and decreased safety."

This morning I was washing windows. I'm embarrassed to say they were beyond a smudge. As my windows got clearer my vision outside got clearer. (I think of cleaning windows as both functional and metaphor for giving myself and family clarity) So as I was cleaning and this clarity started shining. My thoughts wandered to the broken window theory.

The theory goes that if you fix broken windows, pick up trash and keep our neighborhoods looking good that they will contribute to less crime.

What we see effects us. When we feel safe, when surrounded by beauty and thoughtfulness...more follow. One of my favorite stories on this is from Tirana, Albania and the color transformation led by Mayer Edi Rama (I learned of the Tirana's transformation in Ingrid Fetell Lee's book Joyful. The surprising power of ordinary things to create extraordinary happiness. Ingrid writes a fantastic blog called the Aesthetics of Joy- worth a visit)

This broken window effect, isn't just for neighborhoods. It's a natural transition of the environment around you. You toss a bag instead of putting it away...more bags and clutter will follow. When your home starts feeling uncared feel uncared for and your energy drops. When your desk piles attracts more piles. Random things left on the counters or kitchen table attract more random things.

I'm not sure if the broken window theory should be changed to like will follow like. The magnetic effect.

If you want to shift your emotional health, tidy up. Marie Kondo was spot on - there is magic in tidying up.

Interesting note, as I was looking for videos on the broken window effect/theory I ran into an unexpected turn. Apparently this theory has been used in distractive manor. A way of finger pointing discrimination way. Check this out...

Heavy sigh...

The chain of events that can follow things out of place, broken, too much stuffed in a closet, piles of random things scattered about, dirty windows, broken things in need of the definition of clutter. The point of cleaning up is not to segregate, point fingers at or judge (yourself or others). Clutter clearing...however you call it, is a shift of energy, a rebooting of a space and emotions. It is space clearing. Tt is intentionally bringing beauty and care back into a space or neighborhood. It is love.

There is a cause and effect to humans being kind and feeling cared for in their homes and neighborhoods. If there is trash in your path...pick it up. Think of it as an act of love for the next person that follows. Tiny random acts of kindness are acts of love.

Love begets love. Tidy begets tidy. Beauty begets beauty... and a new kinder theory emerges.

The next time you see trash on the ground or a dirty window, do something kind to shift the energy.

Thank you,


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