The Truth About Our Never Ending Search For Control


During a recent productive procrastination session, I came across an article from The New York Times Magazine about our favorite overhaul – your – closet, overhaul – your – life guru, Marie Kondo. The article, which you should really read for yourself, details Kondo’s latest quest – a formal training program based on her best-selling book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. As an owner/reader of this book, I can attest that her wisdom is inspirational. While I was not inspired enough/am too materialistic to fully commit to her method, I did consign a trash bag of clothing #littlevictories.

One quote from a Konvert (aptly named for those dedicated to the Kondo method) particularly stood out to me. She said, “I found the opposite of happiness is not sadness…it’s chaos.” 

Wow that hits close to home.

I constantly try to create some semblance of control amidst the chaos of life when, in reality, I know it’s an impossible task. Emotionally I crave it with every ounce of my body, intellectually I know I’m a speck of human matter floating in time and space for an insignificant amount of time.

On some level, do we not all strive for control? To feel like our actions and decisions are the perfect reflections of who we are and will magically manifest into a copacetic community? While individual methods of illusionary control may vary, the desired outcome is the same: create order out of chaos.

Some of my go-to activities to feel like I’m in control are shopping, organizing notebooks, going for a walk, writing lists, drinking coffee and completing tasks that are hanging over my head. For other people, it’s emptying the contents of their life onto the ground and sorting it based on how it makes them feel. There is also a multitude of detrimental activities in which people participate to try to temporarily relieve the uncomfortable feeling of chaos – drugs, alcohol, disordered eating, among others.

Sure, if I’m going to comfort myself with the illusion of control, I’d much rather throw out old toiletries than seek out my next hit. But at the end of the day, doesn’t the issue boil down to thinking we can have control in the first place? That there are a series of actions, when done in a particular order, that can actually change our lives and give us control? Just like an addict, the fix is only temporary, and sooner or later we’re on a quest for the next high.

Maybe Marie Kondo can’t give you control, but you can have cleaner closets and really what more could you ask for?