Have you ever sighed with pleasure like that? Or taken a deep breath and exhaled with pure happiness and relaxation? Or been so in the zone that the hours flew by and you could have kept going forever and ever, whatever you were doing?
We've all had glimpses (hopefully more) of what it feels like to be in our happy place mentally, physically, and/or emotionally, but how often do we stop to think about how and why we felt that way? What makes our happy place our happy place?
The answer will be different for everyone, of course, but when was the last time you tried to deconstruct your happy place experience? And more important, when was the last time you tried to re-create your happy place experience in even a small way?
We are all affected by our physical environments. Without realizing it, the stresses around us, the energy around us, the people, and sounds, and smells around us all combine into one big experiential ball that affects our mood, our performance, our productivity, and our happiness.
I've always known this about myself. I can feel myself tighten up when I walk into a soulless conference room, I can feel myself come alive when I'm in beautiful surroundings, I know I am more creative when I am somewhere with high ceilings and light or surrounded by nature. I know these things because I pay attention to how I feel and how I perform. And that's why I encourage my coaching clients and anyone else who is interested in my performance "hacks" to Curate Your Environment.
This can be as simple as listening to relaxing music while you work at your desk, having a nice-smelling reed diffuser in your office, or using soft lighting instead of fluorescent bulbs. I do all of these things because I find spas really relaxing so why not make my working environment as spa-like as possible?
It can also be as practical as turning off email alerts from your phone so you're not always feeling harried and "pinged" or avoiding social events where you'll run into people who irritate or deflate you. After all, if you don't curate your environment, other people will curate it for you.
I know it's not always easy to control your environment. I don't live in a hermetically sealed bubble (and I'm guessing you don't either!). But we can focus on the things we can control and then curate our environments within those boundaries. It doesn't have to be all or nothing.
The little changes can make a huge difference in how you feel AND how you perform. You know whether you are at your best in chaotic environments or in more chilled ones. You know whether you nail presentations when wearing a power suit or wearing something a little less constraining but still professional. You know whether you exercise more effectively surrounded by the high-octane energy of a gym or running on a nature trail.
You may perform different activities at your best in different types of locations. I know when I am doing creative work or strategic, big-picture thinking, I need open, light, and beautiful spaces. I know when I want to push myself physically, I need the competition and variety of a team sport or obstacle course. I know when I am doing boring admin, I need to be in a "buzzy" place like a cafe or in my office.
Our minds are incredibly powerful and we pick up hundreds of subtle and subconscious cues from our surroundings. Curating our environments gives us a chance to be and do more of our best more of the time.
It just takes a little bit of reflection and a little bit of action. What's stopping you?
As with all the tips in this series, you won't know how powerful Curating Your Environment can be until you try it. Everything I've shared over these 10 days has worked for me and made my life easier, happier, and less stressful and I hope it will do the same for you.
Please let me know how you're getting on implementing what I've shared, and in the meantime, I'll wish you lots of time-full and stress-free days ahead.
Until next time!