Most of us know physical exercise is good for us and I’m a big fan. But that’s not the type of physical I want to talk about today.
Today I want to talk about our Physical Environment. Having moved twice in the last three weeks combined with several conversations about how lovely it is to have some proper summer weather*, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking (and talking) about how we respond/react to our physical environment and what that can mean for us on a broader level.
Our physical environment is not just one thing, rather it’s lots of different things, spaces (inside and out), smells and sounds. It could be your home, your office, your commute (by car, train, cycle or foot), your gym, your local coffee shop/pub. You can extend it further by thinking about what you wear in all these places, how you speak, what your role is.
Scientifically (stick with me), our physical environment accounts for only up to 10% of our happiness or wellbeing. While 10% may not sound like a lot it doesn’t mean we can ignore our physical environment or spaces we inhabit. What is does do is provide us an opportunity to pay attention to how we inhabit these spaces. Here are a couple of examples..
- The commute to work seem fine… except for when it’s dark when you leave your house and dark when you leave the office.
- You accept an invitation to dinner but know if the weather is bollocks or you find out ‘so and so’ is going you will probably bail.
- Wednesdays are your favourite days at work, but most of the other days you’re not nearly as productive… Do you work in an open plan office? Chances are Wednesdays are when you have the least interruptions and are actually able to focus for long periods of time.
- When there’s a new instructor at the gym/yoga studio you take it a bit easier because you know you can / push it harder because you want them to notice how good at this you are.
All these pondering lead to increased awareness about your own preferences and (sometimes) automatic behaviours. Taking some time to notice these can be enough to induce change or provide an insight you wouldn’t otherwise have.
Being aware of your environment is the first step to making positive changes that enable you to be your best self. What environments do you flourish in? How can you create more time in these?
Own example: I know I work best in the mornings when I’ve been outdoors and active, so I often incorporate lunch-time workouts into my work weeks to give me a boost in the afternoon**. I also know that I am a total home-body by nature, and am more likely to make it to something if I’m already out of the house. That means anyone who is able to go home from work and then make there way out to the gym is like, my idol. If I work out in the evenings, it has to be on the way, making a separate trip is so unlikely that I don’t even plan it now!
*These are generally with fellow antipodeans living in London. You can tell we’ve all been a while given we’re (a) talking about the weather and (b) rate temperatures in the mid-20s as summer!
**Yes, I did this even when I was working a ‘proper’ full-time job… and either studying part-time or commuting 3 or 4 hours on top of it.