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by Tania Scaduto
We are all familiar with the anecdotal “Is the glass half empty or half full?”, but the there is no objectively correct answer. So why bother asking? The reality is that our perception of a situation (especially a negative one) often shapes the way we perceive subsequent situations, manifesting in our psyche as a stain on the lens through which we interpret the world around us. That interpretation either contributes to our stress level, which can compound over time, or avoid and even alleviate stress. So what can be done to control our perspective? Start with an open mind & your environment.
Your environment plays a tremendous role on your perception. Think about your favorite vacation or the best restaurant you’ve ever been to. Chances are the bed you slept on on vacation or the 40 ounce ribeye you ate was only a fraction of what made your experience so great. The view from your room, the temperature outside, or the attentiveness of the waitstaff and ambient lighting & background music contributed to your favorable recollection of the experience.
While consciously we may not be aware of the impact our environment has on perception, neuroscientists have shown that 95% of the information we process is done so subconsciously. If this is the case, why don’t we spend more time crafting an environment that favors reduced stress levels and promotes positivity and calm? When we feel positive and relaxed internally, the lens through which we perceive the world around us becomes clearer, and emotional triggers that might otherwise spiral us to a “glass half empty” mentality are reduced. Here are few simple tips to help change your environment to a zone of low-stress and high positive emotional response.
A disorganized or cluttered space can often add unnecessary stress to our thought process, especially when trying to focus or execute a cerebral task. Check out “The Heaviness of Clutter” from the New York Times discusses the adverse impact of clutter on our health and decision making skills.
ACCESS NATURAL LIGHT
According to the Harvard Business Review, natural light is the #1 desired office perk desired by employees. Studies show that just 10-30 minutes of natural light can reduce depression, headaches, eyestrain and drowsiness. 73% of people polled said they benefit from a walk outside or natural light after continuous time looking at a monitor or screen. Try and set up your workspace near a window or even take a short a walk at lunchtime to allow those Vitamin D rays to soak in!
BE PROACTIVELY POSITIVE
If you naturally have a glass-half-empty mentality, this next tip might evade you at first. The good news is there’s absolutely no downside to trying it! Priming your mind for a good day helps set the tone for exactly that. First, define what a good day looks like to you. “I will find joy today!” “I will stay relaxed today.” “I am creative.” “I am a good friend.” Whatever your positive affirmation, write it down and keep it somewhere visible.
No different than coming across a reminder from a bad breakup can inadvertently sour the rest of your day, “bumping” into positive messages around your home and workspace can have the opposite effect, often leading you to find evidence of the positive response you seek. “What you see often depends on what you’re looking for.”