Consider a building with a few broken windows. If the windows are not repaired, the tendency is for vandals to break a few more windows or tag it with graffiti. Eventually, they may even break into the building, and if it’s unoccupied, perhaps become squatters or light fires inside.

Or consider a sidewalk. Some litter accumulates. Soon, more litter accumulates. Eventually, people even start leaving bags of trash from take-out restaurants there or breaking into cars.

This is the Broken Window Theory first described by social scientists in a 1982 The Atlantic article. It basically states that monitoring and maintaining urban environments in a well-ordered condition may prevent further vandalism as well as an escalation into more serious crime. 

I think it’s the same way with our bodies. At some point in our lives, our bodies undergo a change for the worse. We get a little pudge on our belly. Our arms, once toned, get weak because we’ve been so busy at work for the past few months. Something goes wrong with our body and it’s going to take some serious dedication to fix it. And we don’t make the time to fix it. Things at work are too busy. Kids are sapping all our energy.

So we vandalize our body. This one little broken window in our body is all it takes for us to let our bodies get out of control. A little pudge turns into an extra 50 pounds. Ten years later, diabetes.

The secret is to have no broken windows.

Wonderful analogy comparing my favorite criminology theory to personal health.  As I approach 30, I think more and more about how important it is to be mindful and to truly take care of my body.  The little effort we put into ourselves in our youth will more than pay-off in our later years.


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