Have you ever thought what kind of person you would be had you been born or raised in a foreign country instead of the one you live in? What clothes would you prefer? Which language would you speak? What movies would you watch? Where would you work? Would this change your life?
We can never be 100% certain about what life would be like in this case, although when people travel abroad for extended periods of time it’s common to hear self-reports stating “I’ve changed!”
We are, no doubt, shaped by the world around us. Let’s use this to our advantage!
You Are A Product Of Your Environment
You would likely be a very different person if you were born in a different country, had different parents, or different friends. The people around you are inside your head: Social context shapes spontaneous thought. Pretty crazy, but the world you surround yourself with makes up a significant portion of who you are. Human brains are plastic, which means they re-adjust and rewire themselves. Further, your cells are constantly dying and being replaced, millions and millions of times per day. As a result, we are not one continuous being (physically or mentally) but rather a sort of shapeshifting area of change.
How This Manifests In Day-To-Day Life
If you keep your phone on the nightstand, you’re going to fall asleep using it and use it first thing in the morning. It’s not about willpower, it’s not about guilt. Your environment is set up to use this product at this time.
Google knows this. They do this with the free snacks at headquarters for employees:
So why not use these techniques in your own life?
Change Your Environment, Change Your Life
- Move healthier snacks to the countertop and move unhealthy snacks into drawers
- Put gym clothes in an easily accessible spot
- Keep water nearby
- Keep your phone out of the bedroom
- I have been purchasing books on eBay for around $2.5 each and keeping them within arms reach which has been great as I’ve been reading more than I have since I was a kid!!
- Turn off your phone when you aren’t using it
- Unplug your gaming computer/xbox/playstation after you are done using it
- Keep a journal nearby
- Keep your living space clean
- etc etc
You don’t have to do any of these, they are just recommendations. But, if there’s something you want to do more of (or less of), changing your environment is a fantastic first step to change your life.
For the past few months, I’ve been trying to change my life to better fit my own desires: read more, work out more, use social media significantly less, eat healthier and drink more water. In order to meet these goals, I adjusted my environment.
First, I actually got rid of my TV (don’t worry, it wasn’t being used much and was the worst thing you could possibly have purchased, with regular software crashes!) and instead put a shelf of books there. When I do want to watch TV, I use my laptop or something which is slightly less convenient but that’s the whole point.
Next, I made access to social media a lot harder for myself. Not only did I banish from the bedroom, but I deleted all of my social media apps, including Safari. Now, I could only access social media through my laptop. I eventually deleted my accounts since I started using them so infrequently that each time I would go use social media it was dissatisfying and kind of off-putting.
For workouts, I set some SMART (not VAPID) goals and for awhile would just simply go to bed in gym shorts. Going to bed in sweats and comfy clothes next to an iPhone is a great way to guarantee that the next morning will be spent comfortably on TikTok for hours. Instead, waking up next to a filled water bottle while wearing gym shorts made it so much easier to just walk outside and get some fresh air in the morning. No phone in sight either, just a nice relaxing wakeup and a much healthier lifestyle.
Change Your Life: IRL and Online
Experts agree that the person you are today, your personality, ambitions, status in life, happiness, are largely the result of your environment. Heck, even having this article in front of you suggests that you will change ever so slightly as a result.
Online, you should surround yourself with content that is beneficial for you. The digital content you surround yourself with will impact who you are. As a matter of fact, social media companies have been able to change people on-command, such as making non-voters vote. Yes, FaceBook changed people’s real-life behavior intentionally.
It’s not new. Advertisements in news print and magazines before television became a thing changed people. Radio ads changed people’s behavior. TV (and ads) changed people’s behavior. The internet is not new in this regard.
The internet is exceptionally powerful and it can be used to your advantage. Online, change your digital environment that better aligns with what you want to be. Offline, change your environment to what you want from life, and over time you will change in order to fit the mold you have created.
This process will not be easy. Your brain will fight back and resist, but over time you will transform and almost-perfectly fit your environment. That’s why they say “fake it ’till you make it”
“Man cannot remake himself without suffering, for he is both the marble and the sculptor”Alexis Carrel
This topic is really interesting to me, and I’ve seen a lot of very powerful things starting to change as a result of small, but steady, changes. I am planning to write my next article on this topic, Tiny Changes Make Big Impacts, so please sign up for the mailing list if you haven’t already and don’t want to miss it. Thank you, and I look forward to seeing you when the next one comes out.