“There’s just one way to radically change your behaviour: radically change your environment.” Dr B.J. Fogg, Director of Stanford Persuasive Lab.

Many refuse to believe that they are vulnerable to external pressures, which bend, twist and distort their views on things.

“I’m my own person. I think what I want to think.”

Although you can be steadfast in what you believe, closing your mind to the impact of the environment around you will never allow you to grow. Simply put, your environment does hold enormous sway over you. Those who come to realise that can bend it to their advantage.

It takes many forms and has been subconsciously influencing you since you were born. We always hear about how “the environment we grew up in has shaped who we are today”.

So why isn’t the same principle applied to now, for 20 or 30 years time?

Yes, your childhood was the formative years that have delivered you into the person you are today. But the difference now is the fact you can choose how to move forwards. You’re not dragged along a linear approach with little say or understanding. You’re now centred here as an adult, with decisions to make.

Yes, you can continue down the same linear path that your childhood followed, allowing whatever environment you have to ‘just be’. By doing such, you’re a slave to an environment, of which you do not want to question its authority.

Or, you can choose to break the mould. You can question the comfortable order around you and begin to make active decisions in designing environments that work in your favour.

You can create the conditions for your own success if you’re willing to assess your current situation in an honest way.

 

What environments are there for me to change?

A man sat on top of a mountain.
Photo by Elijah Hiett on Unsplash

Although we all need to focus on doing our bit for the natural environment and mother nature, this article focuses on your personal environment.

That which affects you daily, weekly, monthly and annually. Let’s focus on breaking it down into two main areas, mental and physical.

 

Mental environment

A man with a hat staring hard at the floor.
Photo by Zach Vessels on Unsplash

“The mental environment refers to the sum of all societal influences upon mental health.”

Your mental environment can include those around you, both friends and family.

We sometimes live in fantasy land, where we expect all family to care for us and all friends to have our back.

Yet, it’s not always the case.

If you have toxic friendships or relationships that are affecting your mental health, then you cannot accept your environment the way it is. When you’re surrounded by negativity, it seeps into your brain through the gaps between positive moments and infiltrates your self talk like a toxin. Before you know it, you’re complaining, bemoaning your luck and developing traits such as gossiping or untruthfulness.

Yet, deep down, this in itself is affecting you more. You stray further from your ideal self and who you know yourself to be deep down.

Bad company corrupts good character.

On the flip side, people who are good for you and your mental health do not leave you feeling down. They do not sap you of your energy but leave you feeling determined, ambitious and optimistic about what’s to come.

Finding such people may seem like a daunting task in the beginning. “How do I make new friends if I don’t know them first?” is a common question. But once you ask what your core values are you learn that is exactly who you are. You’re just shrouding it in your current veil of environmental negativity. Once you begin searching out what is meaningful to you, it will naturally gravitate towards you.

There’s a quote by Joel Osteen that sums this up:

“You need to associate with people that inspire you, people that challenge you to rise higher, people that make you better. Don’t waste your valuable time with people that are not adding to your growth. Your destiny is too important.

 

Physical environment

A man standing on a rooftop overlooking a city.
Photo by Joshua Rawson-Harris on Unsplash

You can change your environment up physically by splitting it up into two levels; micro and macro.

 

Micro

On the micro-level (the smaller and more immediate level), you can look at what’s around you that is distracting you from your goals.

Let’s use chocolate as an example. I love it, and discipline when it comes to it is something I’ve yet to learn. If I’m working, and I have chocolate digestives on my desk, or I’m at home and I’ve got cake in the fridge, make no mistake, I’m going to eat it. A couple of sittings and the lot’s gone.

I’ve had to change my environment and make sure they’re not around. It’s not the chocolate’s fault, it’s my own. But by removing the temptation, I’ve designed my environment. This allows me to succeed in cutting down my sugar intake, and in turn, my health and fitness. I can now consider it a treat now and again, instead of boredom eating my way through a pack.

Other micro-level ways to change your environment may include keeping your room tidy, painting the walls a pleasing colour or having more plants in the room. Whatever you can do to your environment that will aid your success, then you should do.

 

Macro

On the macro level, you’re looking at the bigger physical picture of your environment. In the past, I have found myself in an area I didn’t enjoy, where I didn’t feel like I belonged and of which the people around me were not good for my mental health or progression. I could not be the person I wanted to be there, and I made the change to switch up my life, move abroad and allow myself to become unburdened by such weight.

It was transformative in my life, and many others also speak about the need to move away from where they grew up. The same place is perfect for some, whereas some have to leave the nest to explore and find where their place is in the world.

 

If you’re unhappy somewhere but you haven’t looked at changing your physical environment to see the impact it has, then now is the time to do so.

I understand it’s not as easy as “upping and moving” for some. Complex personal circumstances can dictate it’s not that simple. But if deep down, you know a change of scenery can allow you to be who you truly are, you owe it to yourself to find a way of making that happen.

What is around you is fluid.

Whether you want to believe it or not, you can pop that comfort bubble, whether mentally or physically, and change your environment to what works for you. It is in your control, and if you do change your environment for the better, you’ll see a positive change in your life in return.

Do it, and in ten years time, you will thank yourself for it.

 

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