How To Make Yourself Happier; The Effect Our Environment Has On Us

by Paul Hudson

There is no one ‘key’ to achieving happiness. Like everything else in life, achieving happiness requires a multitude of ingredients. One of the most important ingredients is inner peace, which allows for contentment. Another is love — both having people who love you and, more importantly, having people that you love.

However, what most people overlook entirely is what plays a critical role. It’s fine to have all the ingredients necessary for happiness, but it is the oven you bake those ingredients in that matters just as much. Your surroundings — your environment — impact you more than you may realize.

The environment you allow yourself to be exposed to tends to influence you so subtly that its effects on you may seem as if to arise from some unknown, invisible source. The source is not invisible; on the contrary, it is very conspicuous — it is everything that you see, hear, smell, taste and feel around you.

Our surroundings affect us on a profound level. The negative effects that the seemingly unimportant may have on our psyche, our outlook on life and our mood is rather surprising. Take for example your place of residency: is it simply a place where you store your stuff and sleep — if only occasionally? Or is it a place you call home?

The difference may seem to be nothing more than a difference in semantics, but the way that we experience the places that we spend the most time frequenting do influence us. Many a time it is difficult to pinpoint the effects or even the causes.

I can’t say that I am very knowledgeable on the topic of Fung Shui, but there seems to me to be some wisdom in the practice. Whether or not the direction and placement of furniture actually has an impact on our mood and wellbeing I cannot say for sure — albeit I have to admit that the topic has tickled my interest for some time now and I may very well have to give into my curious inclinations and read up on it.

I do know for a fact that other, subtler factors in our environment do have an impact on the way that we feel. The colors of our walls, the colors and patterns of our furniture, the smell in the air, the lack of or the buildup of dust, all affects us; the issue is that this impact usually is not felt for an extended period of time post-exposure.

Even then, we often will find ourselves unhappy and not understanding why — tending to point our fingers at everything but the surroundings we have placed ourselves in. Effects will most certainly vary from individual to individual.

It is likely that some of us have a higher tolerance to dirt and germs than others. I have even heard stories of people that function better when their living rooms are in complete disarray. I am not one of those people and I have a feeling that most people aren’t.

Our minds can become very cluttered themselves, having thoughts and memories almost haunt us. If our environment mirrors this chaos, our senses picking up on the outer chaos will likely only magnify our inner chaos. The way I see it is like this: while our minds usually act as escapes from the craziness that is our lives and those things and people that we surround ourselves with, the very same can be said about our environments.

When our minds are overwhelmed by what life throws our way, we can find ourselves in desperate need of calming — our environment can be a haven away from our own inner workings. If we cannot find peace from within us, our only option is to look outside of us for answers, for direction and for peace. Imagine yourself coming home from a very bad day.

Things just didn’t go right; you were late for work, your boss gave you shit for a bunch of projects that you were slacking on, your friends weren’t available to console you and your boyfriend or girlfriend has been distant. Now you are finally able to go home — go to your safe haven. What will give you more peace? A clean, neat, refreshing-smelling apartment or a shithole that looks a lot worse than your college dorm ever did?

Our homes play a larger role than simply being a place where we can escape all the negativity the world is throwing our way. In fact, it can work in one of two ways: your home can function as a place that allows you to keep your cool and alleviate your stress, or it can work as a catalyst for it.

This goes for more than just your home — it goes for everything and anything that you surround yourself with. The city you live in. The country you live in. Your friends and your family. Everything and everyone that we come into contact with affects us in one way or another — regardless of whether or not we are conscious of the effect.

People especially seem to impact us greatly — they are more interactive than the inactive sensations we experience from the objects surrounding us.

Paul Hudson | Elite.