Why Bother With a Healthy Environment?

Why Bother With a Healthy Environment? 

Our mental wellness is tied to managing and caring about all the different aspects of our lives—the emotional and physical self, the spiritual, intellectual, and social self as well as our environment, interpersonal and occupational areas. We are complex creatures and when all of these systems work in congruence to one another, the result is mental stability. But when they are incongruent, acting against one another, chaos reigns. 

Though each of these areas of our mental wellness are interconnected, I thought it wise to break them apart and look at them individually. 

    Environment by Design

I remember the first time I had my own bedroom. By then, I was a freshman in high school and my three older sisters had flown the coop, so to speak. Finally, I had my own bedroom and I was ecstatic. First, I painted the walls a color that I liked. Then I put up different curtains and bought some plants to place on a shelf in front of the windows. I had the freedom to create my bedroom in a way that matched my personal preferences and as a result, it became my personal space. In my very own bedroom I could relax in comfort and feel content. 

Creating a healthy environment for ourselves might be a challenge but it is a worthy one. The space in which we live or work affects our mental wellness. Our environment can either reduce our level of stress or create more. It can put us in a happy mood or take us down to a funky one. Our surroundings can motivate, suck our energy dry, be inviting or cause us to stay away.  

I’ve lived by myself in apartments, shared a tiny cabin with a group of others, lived a short stint in tipi, and raised a family in a house that was under construction. Though each place was a different sort of space, there were some things that remained the same. No matter the size, the number of people, or lack of conveniences, such as running water and a toilet, I kept things in order. 

Cluttered environments give me a sense of being out of control, so I never let clutter accumulate. Instead, I stay on top of things. Dirty dishes are not left in the sink, laundry, clean or dirty, does not collect into piles. Neither does the mail. The simple routine of paying bills on time, or putting the laundry away creates an orderly environment, one that is peaceful to me. As a result, happiness reigns in my world. 

Walking into our space, whether at home or on the job, should be a pleasant experience, not something we dread. If we let out an audible groan when we walk into one of our rooms and not someone else’s, we know it is time to make some changes. Note that we are responsible only for our space and no one else’s. 

But remember, a healthy environment does not just include the space inside our house or our space at work. What about our car, our garage or yard? Oh my! It is enough to make us shudder when we think of all the different spaces we need to maintain. Yet, we don’t need to get overwhelmed. We  just need to roll up our sleeves, face the room, and get busy turning it into something healthier for us.  

Why bother with a healthy environment? Our environment is after all, our environment and worth the effort it takes to make it a healthy one. When we live, breathe and move in a pleasant space, a layer of stress falls away making us happier people. 

Why Bother Leaving Well Enough Alone?

Why Bother Leaving Well Enough Alone?

When our sons became involved in various extracurricular activities, it was a hard but logical choice for us to move off our five acre parcel in the country and into town. The house we bought was small, but sat on ¾ acres and at the time, was surrounded by fallow farmland. It still felt like a country setting even though we were in the city limits. 

       Selling out for Subdivisions

But then our neighbors sold off their empty fields that surrounded our oasis of acreage and those empty fields sprouted subdivisions. We were disheartened to see the landscape change in such a short time, but we also wondered if we could make a profit by selling a portion of our plot of land. 

“We could get two more houses on our lot and make some money,” my husband surmised. The idea of becoming a little wealthier rolled around inside our minds and dollar signs danced in our heads. 

In the meantime though, our sons took over the large patch of land beside our house. First it became a football field and I watched from the kitchen window as they threw long passes, and tackled each other in the rain or snow. Then the lot became a whiffle ball field, after that, a softball field and when I coached soccer for little tikes, it became our arena for practice. 

In a portion of the lot I staked out a garden and planted corn, giving wagon loads of it to our neighbors living in the subdivision. But there was still plenty of room for birthday party treasure hunts, Easter egg chases and sleeping under the stars. When our sons became teenagers they threw the frisbee the length of the lot and held golf competitions to see who could whack their golf ball the farthest. 

Then my husband and I discussed another money making venture. Maybe building a larger house for ourselves and renting out the smaller house would be profitable. I briefly daydreamed about a bigger house with two or three bathrooms instead of one and a roomier kitchen. But, I couldn’t imagine strangers living in my old house, with their proximity so close to my new one. That plan faded and we remained in our little house with the big empty lot beside it.  

Then while on vacation last year, we stayed in a tiny house and my husband had another brilliant idea, “I could easily build two of these on our extra lot and rent them out as vacation homes.” Yet, when I thought about cleaning up behind strangers, and how their presence would infringe on my space, this lucrative plan also lost its appeal.

Over the years, we’ve weighed these different money making ventures and mulled over worthy ways to profit from our space. In the meantime, the empty patch of land beside our house took on a value all its own; it had become expansive space for our family. 

Why bother leaving well enough alone? Some things are best left undeveloped. A patch of space offers width and depth to life.  Expansiveness is worth keeping. It may be fallow ground, but it is our ground.