"Mom, what if your mind was a room you could walk around in?" My son asked me this at the age of five. Not for the first time (or the last) I felt out of my depth as a parent. Turns out he was starting to remember his dreams, and said he really wanted to get a better look at the scary guy who'd been in his nightmare the night before. Dude, was all I could say at first. Then, "Your mom's mind is quite a messy place. In fact, there are corners where no one would dare look."
There are, Seth Godin points out in a great post this week, companies with an understanding of this, creating actual and metaphorical rooms, are those which bring consumers back again and again. If you are a woman between the ages of twelve and fifty-five, go to the Anthropologie store in mid-town Manhattan. When I die, I'd like to be buried there. Didn't buy a thing when I visited last, but really felt I might have moved in and been perfectly happy.
Then Godin goes a step further to the notion that our emotional states might be not things that come at us beyond our control, but might be like rooms we choose to walk into. So, the idea goes, we might be rolling along but then, out of habit, go to the overheated place called self-righteous anger. Or the cold, damp spot called self-pity. Or sit in the spine-crushing chair of guilt. We go to these spots not because we know they will make us happy--there is no smell of Starbuck's freshly-ground beans here--but because they are familiar. This is one of those ideas that blew my mind. Which definitely needs to be dusted as often as possible.