Thursday, March 23, 2017

Make It Your Own, Part Four

A piece of fortune-cookie make-it-your-own wisdom:
You are not everything. You cannot be everything or do everything or want everything or have everything. It is madness to even think about trying.

The most interesting thing I read this week (besides Connie Willis's Doomsday Book) was a series of blogposts about decorating and home styles for the sixteen Myers-Briggs personality types. These were not about whether extroverts like bright colours, or traditionalists like French Provincial. The focus was on pulling out the very particular strengths and needs of each type, and incorporating those into the creation of a living space. Those who thrive on systems and organization are great at planning traffic flow and labelling pantry jars. Those who love a meeting-of-minds will enjoy having a comfortable space for it. The TLC people need a fully-stocked guest room. According to the author of these posts, one temperament in particular wants home to be a welcoming but secure place, so it makes perfect sense for them to pay special attention to doors. Some of our home-creating may help us find balance; for instance, painting soft colours in a relaxing space for those who spend stressful workdays analyzing things. However, one of the posts warns that...and this is the important thing...when you go too far into "I should be more (you fill in the blank), or more like (my sister, my best friend, my favourite blogger)," you are setting yourself up for trouble.

Even if you don't know anything about Myers-Briggs, this is very sensible advice. It also explains why so many people get so overwhelmed with sites like Pinterest. Or why a certain type of clothing advice works great for some people (you love numbered charts and planning a wardrobe for the next three months) and not for others (it's all about the mood you happen to be in today). It even explains why homeschoolers espousing the same principles and philosophy of education can do things so differently: focusing on their planning binder, or on creating a great learning space, or making sure there are lots of field trips, or cataloguing their books. It's like people who prefer maps to written directions, or those who cook from instinct vs. those who follow recipes faultlessly. The lie that our overloaded consumer minds believe is that we have to not only taste everything on the menu, but then reproduce it ourselves, like art forgers who copy every style without finding their own.

And where this meets "minimalism" or "conscious consumerism" or "intentional lifestyle" is just that simple. Know what you and your co-habitants need and want and love. Let the rest go.

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