What are your surroundings like?

Do you like the items you have in your home? Do you like the sights and sounds of your city and neighborhood? Do you like the smells in your bedroom? Do you feel like you are able to relax in most of the places you frequent?

I’ve struggled with my surroundings for years. I have often felt (incorrectly) that I haven’t been able to change anything. These were very strong self-imposed limits. I grew up in a home where change came slowly and was often accompanied by a lot of unproductive thought and struggle. It was to the point where a change in furniture wouldn’t result in excitement but extreme anxiety.

My husband came from a family that was almost completely opposite. Change was often drastic and swift. It almost resulted in anxiety because of the constant change. Because of my people-pleasing tendencies, his craving for big change, and both of our propensities towards finding the negatives in the communities we found ourselves living in, we moved a lot early in our relationship. It wasn’t until moving into our current home that I realized what an enormous stress moving was for me. We satisfy my desire for stability by not moving and my husband’s desires for change by doing home improvements. By noticing that change brings up anxiety for me, I am better able to coach myself through and lean in to the excitement that comes when we plan and execute a new project. In reality, this is all better because moving is expensive and by making small adjustments in our surroundings we avoid the stress and expense of a big move.

Moves and renos are pretty big changes to make to your surroundings, but in actuality it is quite manageable to make some extremely pleasant smaller changes. Things like a new piece of furniture or getting rid of a table that you don’t use can feel refreshing. I find that I love getting rid of extra items that I don’t use in order to discover more space within my home. The Minimalists (Google them) talk a lot about the idea of everything you own owning you in some respect or another. An object isn’t just something you spend time and money on initially, it also takes up space and energy in your home later on. Making good decisions about only owning items that you need and love makes your surroundings more conducive to finding a life that you enjoy beyond all of your stuff. You actually don’t need a lot to survive, despite what advertising and marketing tells you.

There are other small changes that you can make to your home to make it feel more lovely like having pleasant smells in rooms you frequent. Having a bouquet of flowers or a lovely indoor plant can make things feel more beautiful, too. Can you relax in most of the rooms you spend your time in? If the answer is no, can you imagine any small changes that might make your surroundings more comfortable for yourself? If the answer is yes, what do you love about those spaces? What little details have you incorporated that have made everything so wonderful?

The key to having wonderful surroundings is to connect inward and feel what really adds to your sense of comfort. Imagine- if you were living your most perfect life, would your current surroundings be aligned with any part of that vision? I use this inner connection practice as a gauge… Is how I am surrounding myself adding to my best self or detracting from it? I know that having too many items leaves my space feeling cluttered and leaves me feeling drained and distracted. Plus, owning less means having less to clean. Having a calm place to think and create allows me to express and rejuvenate the deepest parts of myself. I know that rooms with smells that are too strong will leave me with a headache and I will not be able to be my best because I feel unwell. I connect deeply with plants and love having greenery in my spaces. I know intuitively that I am able to relax well in a community that has natural wilderness places in and around it for walking. Being able to take the time to know these things about myself has allowed me to lower my stress levels at home and leads to a greater sense of peace and belonging. I don’t have to make do with my surroundings. I have the power to create comfort. By being comfortable I can even better feel my intuition. It can all be as easy as moving a chair or as complex as moving house.

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