Balancing Chaos with Organization

Balancing Chaos with Organization

Embracing chaos is the key to a resilient lifestyle.  Individuals who shy away from the chaos and resist it, end up with high levels of stress and disappointment.  Instead, one should adopt a strategy of controlling what one can control, while at the same time looking forward to the chaos that inevitably will present itself in one’s life.  The key is to find the balance between chaos and organization, and live a purposeful life towards whatever goals you have set forth for yourself.  


Life Changing Stories

Unexpected stories, both good and bad are part of the natural fabric of life.  These life events that change us at the visceral level can be both good and bad.  Births of children, the death of a loved one, graduating from college, getting promoted, getting fired; all these events change our lives in some way.  Some of these events are planned, like marriage, and some of them are not planned.  The key is to look at these events in a way that we can learn from them.  Even the most negative event can help us to grow.  But doesn’t take a rocket scientist to look at the above list and realize one thing.  All of these events cause chaos in our lives.  I don’t care who you are and how well you have planned for it, but when you hold your first born for the first time, your world becomes filled with chaos, especially when you run your child’s story into the future.  The bottom line is that life changing stories cause chaos.  And that’s OK.



Humans are hard wired for chaos.  Our brains love to solve problems and we enjoy challenges that test us mentally and physically.  At the heart of our brains is a substance called dopamine.  Dopamine drives us to accomplish goals.  Our dopamine centers are powerful “goal accomplishing” machines.  Dopamine is released and helps to drive us forward into the unknown.  The best example of this is our affinity for motion.  When we see motion of any kind, our vision and attention (with dopamine release) is drawn towards that motion.  That is why watching television and sporting events is so addictive.  We are drawn to the unknown and chaos; it’s part of who we are.  Understanding that we fundamentally enjoy chaos and that we should not shy away from it is the first step in leading a better life.  However, too much chaos without organization, and our lives are left directionless; we do not have a clear sense of direction and we tend to fall for anything that comes across our paths.  



Organization and discipline go hand in hand.  When our lives are organized, our brains are free to not only enjoy life but also perform at a higher, more effective level.  Organization is not only reserved for work life; home life is equally (if not more) important.  Cars don’t fit in the garage?  Time to give some of your stuff away.  If your house is disorganized and cluttered, then your brain will be as well.  Just as our brains are hard wired for chaos, or brains are not hard wired for the clutter that we carry with us in our lives.  Material possessions tend to bog us down and enslave us to jobs that we may or may not want to pursue.  Getting organized involves letting go of superfluous possessions, relationships, or activities that we no longer want to pursue.  However, don’t let your organization rule your life.  Remember that you need some chaos and spontaneity in your life.    


The Balance

Balancing organization with chaos is the key.  People who have too much chaos or too much organization tend to suffer the most.  The balancing act involves having one foot in chaos and the other in organization; striving to keep balance and flexibility with both concepts.  If you find yourself too rigid in your thinking, then do an activity that is spontaneous and that you have never done before.  If you find yourself out of control and your thoughts are scattered, then stop, take a break and organize yourself, both physically and mentally.  



Take note of your balance between chaos and organization.  Are you too rigid in your thinking?  Or are you a free spirit that is all over the map?  Finding the balance between the two is the road to resilience and  controlling your stress.  Ask others how they perceive your personality.  Take a front seat in both your organization and your acceptance (and love) of chaos.  Both organization and chaos should be a part of your life.  Being too concentrated in either organization or chaos is like riding a bike with one leg.  Take whatever steps you need this week to become organized, while at the same time embracing chaotic events as challenges to learn from to improve your mental and physical positions.   

“Lean into it!”

Dr. N