~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #219
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“Your environment, where you live and how you shape your surroundings, is the biggest, most important and most impactful thing you can do to favor your own happiness.” —Dan Buettner, The Blue Zones of Happiness
Have you ever said to yourself – if only I lived [insert your dream destination], I would be happier? First of all, that is perfectly human, and partially correct.
Author and researcher Dan Buettner shares in his books and website Blue Zones, which dial into the blue zones of happiness, that while indeed where we live does make a difference to our levels of happiness as we adapt or become conditioned to the habits and way of life around us, so too do the following (as shared on his website – read more here):
- Trust. Can I trust my neighbor?
- Tolerance. Can I live out my values?
- Community. Do I have strong social connections?
- Healthy life expectancy.
- GDP. Money does matter…up to a certain point.
- Freedom. Do I have the freedom to do the work that is right for me?
As I look around my surroundings in Bend, I am examining, asking and then answering these questions for myself. As well, I am doing the same thing with the English countryside and French countryside as both excursions to these countries saw my happiness pique for a variety of reasons, some that were similar and some that were not.
But we cannot always pack up and move simply because we aren’t feeling as content or as happy as we want. Making such a decision isn’t something done lightly or swiftly for most people, but what we can do no matter where we live is tend to what surrounds us right now. Keeping in mind the list above, I’d like to break those down in more detail, paying special attention to specific areas in our lives that we can look at more closely and discover that indeed we can make some improvements to elevate the overall quality of our everyday lives no matter where we call home.
1. Understand how to cultivate healthy relationships
The only person we have control over is ourselves. But it is imperative that we find a community in which we are accepted and supported as we are able to be ourselves. Within this community that you cultivate, honor this ability for others as well. I have written a detailed post sharing seven ways to build healthy relationship here.
2. Invest in your social well-being
3. Keep tribalism to a minimum
Looking at point #2 above, if we only spend time, live, and congregate with people who think just like us, look just like us and do not engage in healthy disagreements, we are not practicing tolerance of other ideas, cultures and people that live differently than we do. While there is a limit to what each of us can tolerate, understand what is most important as we get to know others outside of our tribe – kindness, respect of others rights and boundaries, and the abillity for individuals to become self-actualized to name a few that come to my mind.
If we catch ourselves being judgmental, controlling and stereotyping someone based on something they have no control over, we need to take a step back and ask ourselves if we are contributing to the problem of a healthy society.
4. Examine your health and finesse your diet and fitness routines
~The Six Pillars of Good Health, episode #212
~Design an At-Home Strength Training Program That Works, episode #201
5. Build and then strengthen your income and financial future
6. Cultivate a sanctuary that feels like home
One of the aspects of my recent trip to France was that I chose rentals that would enable me to feel as at home as possible since I was so far away from my own home and would be for some time. Details matter, less but better matters, and choosing details and furniture that enable us to live the life within our homes that is not only functional but comfortable when we do what we love.
Some takeaways for me that I will be looking to add to my current living space:
- adding more framed photographs from my travels, with my dogs, etc.
- adding more warmth to my rental with linen curtains that I can take with me to my next home that will be purchased as the size is not pre-determined.
- making sure my kitchen is stocked with the utensils I need to cook the meals I love.
- furnishing my deck with comfortable furniture for quiet pursuits (reading) and summer dinners with friends and family.
Below is a list of other detailed posts to offer more ideas and inspiration for making your home a sanctuary. As well, be sure to check out my first book Choosing The Simply Luxurious Life: A Modern Woman’s Guide as an entire chapter is dedicated to cultivating a sanctuary.
~many more archived Decor posts here
7. Spend time regularly enjoying hobbies that enable you to be fully present
When we engage in hobbies that allow separation from our work world, even our social world as much as we personally need, we actually are giving our mind and being a rest. And when we let our minds rest, we reduce our stress, thereby increasing potential ideas and problem solving to happen naturally.
8. Be conscious of the media that you expose to your mind
We may not be able to control the world around us, but we can control whether or not we put ourselves in a situation to consume information that isn’t what we know will increase the quality of our lives. Check out this post about giving your brain a chance to calm down.
9. Come up with daily, weekly, seasonal and annual rituals you enjoy and will look forward to
- daily rituals
- holiday rituals
- weekend rituals
- afternoon rituals
- morning rituals to start your day
- designing a great week
- how to savor the reasons for the seasons
10. Take time to explore what you are truly capable of and can offer the world
The easiest way I have found to grow is to follow my curiosity. After all, when we follow what catches our attention and we wish to learn more, it doesn’t feel like effort. In fact, such efforts may actually fuel us. And when we find what we love, what we enjoy doing, our contentment rises. Fred Rogers once shared about people who were successful, “The thing I remember best about successful people I’ve met all through the years is their obvious delight in what they’re doing and it seems to have very little to do with worldly success.” And if we can find a place in this world, whether it is in the town we currently call home, or if we have to move to make such a career possible, our happiness will soar. It doesn’t mean we won’t face obstacles, but we will be able to work through them because we sincerely care and enjoy what we are doing.
Today, consider what surrounds you – structurally – the home you live in, the physical work space; socially – the people you spend time with; concepts and ideas that are heard, seen, read – the media, ideas shared by others and the culture you call home; and what you have accepted as out of your control. Often much of what is in our control can be improved simply by being conscious of what influences our environment.
Often it is in the stepping away from our everyday environment, whether because of a weekend getaway or a trip to another country, because when we return we see that life goes on in a myriad of different ways. We have the ability to construct the ways our world unfolds on a daily basis in more ways than we may realize. But when we do realize, more contentment can be ours.
~SIMILAR POSTS FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
~7 Ways to Become What You Were Truly Meant to Be, episode #193
—Won’t You Be My Neighbor? documentary film of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood and Fred Rogers
~View the conversation on TSLL’s Instagram post about the film here.
Image: TSLL’s Instagram
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