Last week we talked about surrounding yourself with passionate people, and this week, we will chat about how you can change your environment to feed your passion and infuse your days with positivity!
We often overlook how strong of an impact our environment has on our success, our creativity, and our passion output. As creatives, we can be impacted by the most simple changes, or overwhelmed by the smallest overlooked pieces.
For a simple example, when we first moved in to our company owned flat in India, I HATED our living room. The curtains were black out curtains of a deep red brocade. Absolutely zero light would come in, and even if they were fully opened, they still cut out a considerable amount of light from the sides. The artwork in our department had a very masculine, aggressive output. The paintings were very geometric, harsh, deep reds and browns, with furious black lines through the shapes. All of our furniture was brown: chocolate leather sofa, chocolate side chairs, deep brown side tables, a deep brown kitchen table.
I had to follow my favorite advice to get my focus back: change your environment.
The room was beyond depressing and just fed an unsettled nervousness whenever I would sit in there. One day, I had enough. I went out and ordered new curtains – thin sheers in white and light green. I bought a tablecloth in bright colors and some hand blocked pillow covers. This simple infusion allowed more light, brightened the room, and off set the darkness that permeated the space before.
We had a fairly decent sized balcony that opened next to the sofas, so I went and bought some simple containers and started a tomato and pepper garden. The smell of fresh earth, growing plants, and the extra color brightened up my area a little more. When I looked outside, I didn’t notice the air pollution and chose to focus on my beautiful plants instead. I also found myself writing better, creating more, and enjoying the space.
Why did this work? I followed my advice. Change your environment.
And then we rescued our little rascal, Ramona the pillow snatcher, and some of the color had to be safely hidden in a cabinet. 🙂 She also ate all of my baby pepper plants and had a tendency to nap in the planters, but her cuteness made the loss of my balcony garden worthwhile.
We now live in Germany, and while we don’t have the luxury of a three bedroom three bathroom spacious flat, our tiny lofted studio nourishes my creativity. The ceiling is tall with great skylights, the space is open and white, the balcony faces a back yard full of lush greenery, and we have beautiful birds that stop by our balcony all day. I thought moving to an extremely small house would be a challenge, but it’s been a blessing. What started off as temporary housing while we obtained our residency and qualified for longer term rentals has truly become a place we cherish.
Living in a small space pushes me to go out and adventure during the day, finding neighborhood cafés or coffee shops to write from. I’ve stumbled into amazing art supply stores, water-color and acrylic suppliers that hand mix colors for you, knitting shops, and I even found a dosa restaurant! I was excited, even though they don’t have masala dosa. One of my all time favorite finds was a café in an old haberdashery. The case that once displayed hats now housed pies, and the walls that contained lovely finishings like buttons, rick rack, and ribbon, now contained teacups, silverware, and a variety of antique china you can purchase.
Seriously, look at how adorable this café is:
I still dream of my ideal office, living room, kitchen, and trust me, shopping for the furniture and linens to complete my ideal look. But, each day we get a little closer to settled and I’m finding ways to move around the globe, making each stop my own.
If you are currently feeling like your passion is drained, like you aren’t sure what you want to focus your life or work on, look around you. Are you feeling inspired, encouraged, or excited by your surroundings?
It’s okay to say no, and it’s okay to understand that you might not be able to change them all at once. However, you can take small steps to create a happy environment immediately.
What is one thing that you can easily change, even if you’re on a budget?
Maybe buy some brighter pens when your current ones run out of ink, or a fancier notebook. Get a bright and cheerful potted plant for your desk. Change out your existing framed art with something more modern and bright. Touch up the wall with a fresh coat of paint. Buy a new rug, or if you have excess t-shirts, make one! One of my favorite activities in Uganda was taking our scrap fabric and crocheting round rugs. (They’re also extremely comfortable under your feet.)
In the comments, tell me one thing you wish you could change that will become a goal for this year, and one thing you will change today to make you happy.
If you want to learn more about how changing your environment impacts your mind, I highly recommend picking up How the Body Knows its Mind by Sian Beilock.
From the blurb:
The human body is not just a passive device carrying out messages sent by the brain, but rather an integral part of how we think and make decisions. In this groundbreaking book, Sian Beilock, award-winning scientist and author of the highly acclaimed Choke, draws on her own cutting-edge research to turn the conventional understanding of the mind upside down in ways that will revolutionize our lives.
Also published on Medium.