Good in the ‘Hood?
16. Conducive surrounds
Having space just to be is intrinsically associated with freedom and flourishing, as common sense and studies dictate. Without a reasonable modicum of provisions for privacy and room to move, dignity may drop to what sometimes becomes an unbearable low. Coping with restrictions also depends on outlook. Recall the oppressiveness of the great isolated house shared by Kane and his wife in the film, Citizen Kane. On the other hand, a prison cell, while not recommended, has, if anything, hastened the inner development of some of humanity’s greatest liberators and writers. Given hindsight and choice, when it comes to finding habitat contentment, most go for the happy medium.
To live in a place conducive to calmness with a tolerance for emotional truths, and kindness in processing them, supports well-being. There’s even a field of psychology devoted to the inter-relationships between human behaviour and surroundings: environmental psychology. Interest in this area has been growing with particular concern for the natural environment and the damaging human footprint on it linked to climate change. The increasing emphasis in architecture and building projects on sustainability and harmony with nature is a happy one because the results are intended to sooth the human spirit. Such trends reflect and advocate ancient Taoist attitudes: “…the wu wei principle as a guide for the way humans should act in accordance with nature. “Tao invariably takes no action, and yet there is nothing left undone.” In other words, step as lightly as possible on the earth.
Toxins in the environment, both physical and mental, can negatively affect those subjected to them, those living or working in the area. Altering the atmosphere to provide reminders to people of the positive seeds of beauty, wellness and grandeur within them is possible to some extent anywhere. What’s on the wall to look at? What sounds circulate? Is there good ventilation and enough natural light? Are surfaces clean and uncluttered? Are colours balanced and pleasing to the eye? Is there a sense of aesthetic order? is there some living green foliage in sight? This slowyourhome blog makes some simple suggestions to inspire preferred design ideas. Knowing how refreshing a routine clean and tidy-up is, just imagine the longer-term beneficial effects of a make-over! If it’s not possible and conditions get residents down, consider and begin investigating the feasibility of moving away. Until that juncture, however, be assured that small modifications can make a big difference.