“Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come, whispering ‘it will be happier’…”
― Alfred Tennyson
The calendar has turned and we’ve wrapped up another holiday season. Even the most disciplined among us may have been thrown off by the weeks of rapid fire, nice and naughty eating, drinking, partying, spending, family dysfunction, and exhaustive running around. Now we may be dreading the work needed to get back in gear and re-point ourselves toward the direction of health and well-being.
In addition to getting back to our routines and regimens, the new year is traditionally the time we reflect on ways to improve our lives – what we’d like to have more of, what we’d like to edit out, and which new goals to set in motion. Knowing where to start can be daunting if we overcomplicate things. But simply taking some quiet, inward time to listen to those nagging little taps on the shoulder and burning feelings in our guts (that we so brilliantly ignore in the course of our busy lives) reveals where to start.
Discomfort is honest. It always shows us where problems lie and where we need to make change. We just have to have the courage to listen and to feel.
With honest contemplation comes self-awareness and clarity. Both are needed to manifest the map and compass that gets us un-stuck and leads us to a happier and healthier life experience. It’s a critical step that shines light on the habitual behaviors or thought patterns that we consciously or unconsciously go to. Once we expose those patterns we can examine the triggers and the ways they are tripped, and devise a disciplined new way of re-routing ourselves in the future. With that valuable information maybe we’d start to deal with emotions instead of trying to eat, work or shop them away. Maybe we’d discover the real reasons for our procrastinations or piles of clutter. Maybe we’d stop believing the lies that keep us tied to toxic relationships and self-hurt. Maybe.
When we think about resolving to make change in our lives most of us focus on improving the psychological/spiritual/emotional mind and the health of the physical body. Perhaps we’re joining a gym, working with a nutritionist or seeking some type of emotional or spiritual counseling. While both are critical to examine and re-align when needed, I believe there is third element that is grossly overlooked in the discussion of health and well-being. That is the health of the physical home.
If we think of the home as a physical manifestation of our authentic, internal selves then it becomes easier to see where we’re getting stuck and where we are repeating unhealthy patterns. Our environments tell us what’s wrong just like the mind and body does, it’s just that we tend to pay less attention to the symptoms. If we paid attention, we would realize that the disconnect and discomfort we feel when our homes are out of alignment feels just like the nagging tap on the shoulder or pang in the gut we feel when other aspects of our lives are out of alignment. Left unattended, a physical or emotionally unhealthy home can be as detrimental to quality of life as smoking or trauma.
Nine times out of ten an unhealthy home correlates to an issue that needs to be worked out in another aspect of life. For example, a home overstuffed with possessions and full of clutter might be an indication that the person is overwhelmed, stuck or in a place of denial. A space that is intentionally ignored may represent trapped emotions that are being shut off. Each scenario is as unique as the person/people living here and many times they can’t see the obvious correlations.
Like a good personal trainer or therapist, the skilled interior designer can help to diagnose problems and create aesthetically pleasing solutions that support and promote one’s highest states of well being.
Fortunately, the road to good home health is quicker than years of therapy and hurts less than a kick boxing class. But it does take the same process of quiet introspection to diagnose problems, honesty and self-awareness to know why they occurred, and an implemented plan to override triggers and habits for real change to occur. And when we make positive changes in our physical space we see it and feel it – we get to live in it! That transformation is registered on every level of our being – mind and body – and can be life changing.
As you reflect on the changes you want to make this year remember to include the ones you want to physically see around you. And let’s expand the conversation of wellness to include the health of our personal environments. By changing what we see and feel, we truly change how we see and feel.
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