The fastest way to effect change in our lives is to start by doing so within ourselves. We are able to alter behavior and habits through changing our environment. There are mounting stresses of the world and in order for us to get prepared to enter out into that world each day, we have to make sure that we are coming from a good place. Embarking into the world with a positive mindset, a positive outlook, and a positive attitude can sound like a lot, especially when, as societies, we often are subject to stresses beyond out immediate control.

Take a step back and see what you can change about your life and your world. Start with you, start from within, and start at home. You’ll be amazed at just how much better you feel overall, how much more productive you are in your day, and how well you interact and affect those around you. Creating this change is important, and if you have a family at home with whom you can do this, the more the merrier! It is truly worth your time to start now, with the New Year approaching.

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Find clarity

Check out these ten ways to change your mindset by altering your environment:

1. Create calm at home through choice colors. Your mood upon waking is essential to getting a good start to the day. As researchers continue to explore the ways that our brains work and process sensory stimulation, it’s important to remember that “vision plays a key role in aligning neural representations of space in the brain”. This is particularly true during development, but relative throughout life. Knowing this, we can evaluate how we feel, what we want, and how to employ this new data in our daily life. By choosing colors that simulate calm, our subconscious mind will take in the calming colors and establish a baseline for our daily routine.

2. Supplement the color triggers with things that you like. We all have visual preferences of animals, plants, designs and decorations, etc., and it’s important to have these reminders around the house that there are, in fact, things that make us smile, make us happy, or just trigger a temporary spike in mood as we start the day.

3. Strengthen the mood enhancement of these triggers through favorite smells. There will never really be anything that can compare to my memory of the smell of orange blossoms in the heat of the Arizona sun or the scent of rain as it seeps into the lush forest earth. Alas, there are ways to trigger those memories and bring back a shade of the moment. Doing so with your favorite scents at home—either through candles, incense, or essential oils—can make a huge difference in your pre-departure mood.

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Soft, simple, yet profound smells

4. Heighten multiple senses at the same time. In combination with visual and olfactory inputs, try to combine two or more of them, layering to deepen the feeling of contentment and comfort, ultimately making the mood last longer. Listen to the calming sounds of running water as you prepare for the day. Eat vibrant colors and varying tastes and textures for breakfast. In a neighboring space, light some soft incense. By mixing and matching the inputs, you’re bound to find something that puts you in a good mental and emotional state.

5. Change up your morning shower routine. While some people prefer to shower in the evenings, those of you who choose to do so in the mornings might have some benefits to this habit. The sensation of flowing water, fresh-scented shower gels, and warmer or cooler temperatures can shape the morning “awakening” experience. If you’ve ever traveled to the tropics or an arid region, you are likely familiar with the undeniable pleasure that comes from taking a cool shower against the backdrop of the wet or dry heat. Make a commitment to change the temperature (season dependent) in order to experience the refreshment of something different.

6. Note what you are thankful for. In addition to Number Seven on this list, it’s really a great thing to take a moment and be grateful for the things you have. This is more in the sense of having a place to call home; a roof over your head, and a comfortable manner of living. This also includes the fact that you have access to food, water, and clothing. There are too many people in this world that don’t have enough of the basic human needs. Being mindful of what you do have makes it easier to accept your environment and let go of wanting for the sake of wanting.

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7. Think about the love and appreciation you have for those closest to you. This may seem like a silly thing to do, but make sure you don’t forget to affirm what you’re grateful for. Not everyone has a loving spouse, children, or supportive coworkers. Mentally noting that you’re happy to have them in your life is a start. Emotionally and physically feeling the love and appreciation you have for them while thinking about them can create a prolonged sense of gratitude that you’ll carry with you into the day. Your attitude is already more positive because of this!

8. Visualize your ideal day. How can today be extraordinary? What things would need to happen for that feeling to wash over you? Think about the ways in which this could happen. Why is this technique important? This is a key component to experiencing your day. If you have woken up and are already worrying about an assignment or task that you have to do, or if you’re already worried about seeing that dreaded person, try to clear everything away and start with a blank state. Imagine how the day plays out in the best possible light. See yourself coming back home in an elevated and uplifted mood after experiencing your ideal day.

9. Give yourself a break. Sometimes the people hardest on us are ourselves and we’re a little bit harder to get a break from than a coworker or member of the public. No one is always on their A-game, and if there seems to be someone that is, they probably have insecurities and fears of their own. We are often too quick to compare ourselves to others, then be harder on ourselves because of the comparison. Let go of the desire to be perfect and truly see yourself as you are: good, bad, flaws, and successes alike. Once we see ourselves as we truly are, and accept ourselves as we truly are, we can choose to make the changes in our mental and emotional environment that extrapolate outwards into the physical environment in which we live and share with other people.

10. Remember that life is short and what we each want is happiness and health. Life isn’t about making money and working. It’s about sharing in the laughter, love, and happiness of those around you. If you’re feeling pulled down by the daily grind and it’s possible to change up your situation, then do so! We are the creators of our individual realities and are able to choose how we want to experience life. Sometimes there are difficulties and things that are out of our control, but it’s up to us to choose how to react to the things we can’t control.

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Choice is a powerful thing and in the spirit of a New Year with new opportunities, it is a sincere hope that people have the grace and good sense to be kind to themselves and others. Changing the environment in which we spend our time, whether physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual, can be a challenge. The experiential rewards on the other side of doing so are certainly worth the efforts. In the upcoming New Year, be kind to yourself and enjoy shaping a healthy, happy, and enjoyable environment to experience.