Sometimes life just isn’t quite up to scratch.
There are situations we want to change or don’t want to be in.
Maybe we think it is ourselves.
Maybe we blame others.
Maybe it is something we feel we can’t really change even if we wanted to.
Whatever it is, you don’t want it. Don’t like it. Don’t willingly choose it. You want it to change.
You want to make life better.
There is one thing I wish I could tell everyone who wants to make life better.
I learnt from experience. I learnt from trial and error. I also learnt through rewards and results.
Let’s face it. Results are what we want. The only thing we care about, when it all boils down to it.
We want effective ways of living that get us from Point A to Point B in as smooth a run as possible. No bullshit. No fluff. And no negative side effects in other areas of our lives.
I’m not a guru – far from it. I’m just a writer who has learnt some hard lessons about making life better.
There are do’s and don’ts.
Today I’m focusing on the Do’s.
Without these do’s in your life, it’d be easier to drag your chained feet through 3 feet of sand than to make life better.
This first do is often overlooked, misunderstood, disregarded. Not prioritised as much as other elements such as money.
And that’s just plain ineffective.
What is the first step to take?
It’s this: create stability and safety in your environment.
Easier said than done. I hear you.
In fact, these two elements of living may be two of the hardest to achieve – and yet, the power they have when they are in place?
These two elements must be present in your life.
Otherwise it is like trying to draw a portrait of a person with your mouth while balancing one-legged on a basketball.
It gets messy.
Stability and safety impact our life powerfully.
When we can follow through in creating it, our quality of life soars.
It allows us to be at peace and at rest, unlocking access to resources and energy we never knew we had.
Imagine being untethered, but in a good way.
In life we don’t always control the exact amount of safety and security we have in our daily environments.
When we cannot obtain it, we should pursue it.
You might be thinking, how can I control my safety and stability? And why is it important?
Let’s delve into why it’s the first thing I would tell anyone in search of a good life.
Our environment impacts us.
Where we live, who we spend time with, where we work.
You may think your environment conforms to you; you are the one calling the shots…
Our environment will expect us to conform with it.
It’s an unfortunate yet truthful fact.
Often the relationship we have with our environment is a material and/or biological one.
When you need to catch the bus to go to work, it’s because of physical limitations like the mileage you can walk and how far your office is from your home.
Other times the relationship with our environment is more abstract, with social pressures and demands, constructs and expectations.
Think of your relationships. Friendships. Intimate partner. Co-workers.
A relationship will create a way you behave, react and respond in your environment.
Here’s the bad news
Your environment can have a negative and dangerous impact on you.
It’ll suck all your hard work dry, rendering you ineffective.
And you don’t even realize it.
A poor or toxic relationship.
A hated home-life.
A dreaded work environment.
These are some of the things that drive us mad. We want them to change, to stop!
The truth is, they won’t just magically stop without our intervention, or without action from us.
Here is the good news.
There is something you can do about it.
I’m going to get practical.
I’ll share 3 major environments that I changed in my own life, and give you the results I experienced (am experiencing currently).
Getting back to safety and stability, why do you think they are required for a good life?
And why would I say it’s the first step to making effective changes?
An environment where you DON’T feel safe and stable, aka an overly stressful environment, will kill your energy, creativity, and overall health.
But, I don’t want to focus on stress.
Let’s focus on what to Do!
Here is the reason Safety and Stability come first.
Stability and safety are vital for you to have.
Humans, on red alert with adrenaline streaming through their veins and cortisol gushing at the smallest trigger, make mistakes and get exhausted.
They are stressed, highly strung, irritable, unproductive, and not performing to their full capacity.
It’s possible a mental health condition alone is causing dissatisfaction in your life, irrespective of environment.
But even if this is true, wouldn’t improving our environment anyway be a good thing?
Wouldn’t removing anything that undermines our safety and stability be a smart move?
Change can be hard, yes. But not changing can often be harder.
Marcus Aurelius said, “The universe is change; our life is what our thoughts make it.”
You may not be able to address or change things overnight, but keep an open mind.
What could improve in your environments?
Ultimately, we do control what we let into our lives.
We can say no, yes, or not today.
We can be upfront with ourselves by being honest and inquiring into what may be making us uncomfortable, unsafe, or unstable.
It’s about others too.
You have pride in yourself.
That’s why you are reading this. It’s awesome.
So I get that you also want to leave a good impression for others.
You want to make life better for them too.
You want good things in their lives, because you know environment is important for them just as much as you.
When we relax…
When we feel safe…
When we have stability in our lives…
We become a more grounded human being.
We can encourage and inspire those around us.
We are no longer trying to paint a wobbly portrait on a moving ball. We are standing firmly painting without the slightest interference of a breeze.
Firm. Grounded. Solid.
This is us backed by decisions that give us safety and stability.
Being grounded as an individual will make you a stronger community member.
When you are safe and stable, you can share that with others.
This is a call to take action when and where you can.
From experience, I have found the impact of stability and safety to be the number 1 determining factor on the quality of my life.
The strange thing is, it’s often invisible to me.
Then hindsight kicks in.
I completely misunderstood and disregarded the importance of stability and safety. I thought that as long as my mindset was okay, my environment should not impact me.
Maybe you are the same.
Maybe you think it doesn’t matter that much…
Not as much as money, or sex, or feeling good….
I was wrong.
I put the value of money over the value of my body.
Personal rules over my own safety.
Relationships over my own comfort.
This habit of prioritizing anything else over stability or safety cost me thousands in dollars, in lost time, and in repercussions that ripple to this day.
Our environment will always impact us, and it’s vital to a good life to know this,
If you feel stressed, uncomfortable, unsafe or unstable, then addressing that is the very first step.
It’s not easy. I feel you.
I’ve lived it.
So I want to highlight three practical changes I made that dramatically changed my quality of life.
It improved my mindset, my mental health, my financial gains, my reputation and my physical health.
Here are the first steps I took to start living a better life.
1. Make life better by making a change in your relationships.
When you can sense that a relationship you are in is not working for you, or for the other person, have a pause.
A moment to breathe.
You want it to change, right?
Relationships are trickier than most things. They are undefined and sometimes full of emotions.
What can we do?
Let’s look at how the relationship is slowing us down, or causing us to feel ineffective.
For example, years ago I was once living with someone who was a very skilled gaslighter.
The constant barrage of accusations created an environment where I second guessed everything I was doing.
It wasn’t until I stepped out from under that umbrella environment that I realised how much someone else’s words sapped me of my energy, drive and confidence.
Another situation I recall is when a beautiful couple I knew were about to separate.
One person was experiencing anxiety and depression, and like a hole in a boat, venting and sadness filled the relationship.
My friend, who loved their partner, took a stand.
He refused to let himself sink under the weight. He confided in me that the relationship was sapping his joy, causing him anxiety and affecting his work life and productivity.
The pain was spread all over his face when he spoke. It was a hard decision.
He did the best thing he could have done.
Sitting down on the couch with his partner, he spoke honestly.
The good news is that after an intense and focused discussion, they came back together stronger.
His partner has taken everything to heart and from what I can see now, the relationship has changed.
Working together they created a new dynamic and a happier environment.
Look at your own relationships. Friendships. Intimate ones. Co-workers.
What don’t you like? What makes you uncomfortable?
What would make life better?
Then think about what can be addressed.
Can you pick up on any toxic behaviors? Whether they are yours or not, you should address it immediately.
Please don’t get me wrong – I’m not advocating leaving your relationships as a default.
The opposite in fact.
I’m encouraging you to address and acknowledge what you think would make life better.
When you can address these things, they may change for the better.
If after addressing them, nothing happens, well, that is ok.
Now you know what you want to change, and you understand you need to make a decision for yourself.
But good on you for realizing in the first place that you can desire changes in your relationships and address them.
You honestly deserve to make life better.
Let’s move on to the second thing I changed to make life better.
2. Make life better by changing your home and living environment.
This is all about your housing and living situation.
Here a four practical tips when it comes to having safety and stability in your house.
Make life better in your home by considering your safety.
Yes, I mean physical safety. Mental safety. Emotional safety.
Do you feel safe there?
Can you sleep soundly?
Is this something that you can fix, perhaps with a better lock on the door or by making some adjustments in the room?
Do you have space and time for yourself?
Can you be yourself without another person being negative towards you?
Obviously, this does not warrant obnoxious behaviour from yourself, but do other people live and let live, so to speak?
Ask yourselves these questions, and answer honestly.
If you answer no to any of them, I encourage you to find a solution, and quickly.
If you are living with others, ensure you have mutual respect for each other. Otherwise, address what is bothering you and find solutions to change things for the better.
Don’t waste your precious energy feeling unsafe when it could be going to much more productive things.
Make life better in your home by considering your habits.
Are you able to create and build a routine for yourself? Routine and ritual are incredibly important to build momentum, good habits, and keep doing what we need to do (especially when we don’t feel like it).
Are you able to settle in and make the space livable for yourself for a longer period of time?
If it’s a short term arrangement, what daily routine can you implement to give yourself some stability?
Make life better in your home by considering your access to good air and light.
This may be overlooked by some, but living in the dank and the dark can impact your mental health and general wellbeing.
Do you have access to the light?
Are there windows?
Do you have enough space?
I’m not saying live in a condo by the sea, although that would be lovely if you could (please ask me over for some lemonade!)
I’m saying, don’t live in a place that doesn’t breathe, or doesn’t have enough lighting. Avoid mold which can get into your lungs or worse.
Plants are good if you don’t have a window, and they will help purify the air. Lights and lamps will help lift the darkness too.
Prioritise these things – they may sound less important than “sucking it up” for a while, but ultimately, you have to be fit enough to get from point A to Point B. Don’t jeopardize yourself.
Make life better in your home by considering the warmth.
Can you stay warm in winter? Can you sleep through the night without waking up from the cold?
Staying warm enough will keep you strong. Being too cold will use a lot of your energy, burn body fat, make you uncomfortable, and affect your sleep and productivity.
I am speaking of extremes, I know. Many of us are blessed with good homes, so these things may not come to mind and that’s fantastic.
It may not be the case for you.
You may not be lucky enough to have a choice to choose your home.
If that is the case, I encourage you to think practically, and do what you can.
If it is something you can change, change it.
- Make sure you are warm enough.
- Make sure you feel safe.
- Make sure you have enough robust light and healthy delicious breathing air.
- (Light can’t really be robust, but I just want you to remember that point.)
These things may be out of reach for you at this very moment, so I advise one thing – pursue them!
Make life better. A good life is one of pursuit and improvement as well as being in harmony with nature and your environment.
Let’s move on to the last change that I made that changed my life dramatically.
3. Make life better by considering a change in your employment/work environment.
Do you feel like life would be better if your work life was better?
If the answer is yes, then considering a change in this area is highly recommended.
If you hate what you are doing at the moment, why not change it for the better?
Imagine not living to work. Imagine not stressing about clients. Or your boss. Or whatever it is that makes you want to pull your hair out.
Yeah, ok. But that isn’t the case for me, you say.
I need to put food on the table. Money needs to be coming in. I don’t have the luxury…
I’m still listening and I get you.
Your quality of life will improve drastically if you are happier, more satisfied, and not irritated every time you need to deal with work.
I’m not saying quit your job off the bat.
Instead, identify what creates stress and instability in your environment and find some solutions.
Turn your environment into a palace of safety and stability (palace was a typo but I’ll keep it).
It’s not silly. It’s necessary.
An example from me. I quit my job of three years just before the COVID pandemic.
Let’s just say the timing wasn’t ideal, but it also wasn’t planned in anyway. I had decided I wanted a healthier and better suited working environment for myself.
Applications for new jobs flew out from my laptop daily. I got a last minute interview and was offered the job the next day. Lucky me, right?
Not so fast.
In the practices I worked in, there are certain Health and Safety requirements that they must all take seriously. I was employed into a senior role to implement new infection control procedures in the workplace among other responsibilities.
Now I’ve had plenty of horrible jobs in the past.
I’ve worked for plenty of employers who don’t keep their word, underpay, and overwork their staff.
After 10 years I can now recognize these patterns of behaviour faster.
(To be honest, I’m actually at the point where, if I can choose, I’ll never be an employee again, and that’s another story).
It’s taken me years to realise that saying “No” is much less painful and much better for me than saying yes to something that ultimately asks me to sacrifice myself in other ways.
Rent and bills are calling, singing their monthly songs, but killing yourself for a job isn’t worth it.
There are always other ways to make enough money for rent and bills until you land that dream job.
Long story short, after I did an unpaid “assessment day” of work for them, and just before my official start date, they rescinded their initial agreement of me implementing infection control policies.
Because I was uncomfortable with their current infection control practices and didn’t feel safe working in that environment (I also knew they would overwork me with 12 hour days with constant standing), I turned the position down.
Thinking back on it now… yes, I would have made some money.
But I’d also waking every morning hating the fact I’d have to go work there.
My love of life, my energy, my passion – sucked dry. Zombied. Dead.
My loved ones would all be feeling the impact this too. Of me feeling out of control in an environment that I feel unsafe or unstable in.
It’s simply not worthwhile in the long run.
What can you do?
Look for a new position.
Ask for a promotion or change in role.
Find an apprenticeship.
Make a decision to improve your environment.
Whatever it is, try to take an action with the purpose of making your life better.
Here is a recap on the first steps to make life better.
In life, when things like dissatisfaction and mental health come into play, we forget the importance that these simple things have on our bodies and our minds. These help us create and live a good life.
In moments of stress and fight-or-flight moments, it’s easy enough to ignore safety and stability and put them in the “I’ll do that later” basket.
It’s easy to underestimate them.
Disregard their importance.
The message I hope you receive today is that they should never be put off.
Not having safety or stability impacts us too much, and to ignore that is to continue down a dangerous path of dissatisfaction with those areas of our lives.
Ignoring won’t make life better.
Having a place and environment you feel safe and stable in is imperative for your well-being. Don’t underestimate the power it can have on your life.
If you want a better quality of life, start addressing and changing these seemingly simple things, and life will become better.
Make a decision that simple things are important to you. Make it a goal for yourself. Make it an aim. Make it something you go towards.
Because the place we can be when we are standing in safety and stability is unfathomable.
Our lives become richer, stronger, and most importantly, we start seeing results in our efforts.
So go ahead. Make life just a little better today.
Until next time,
Here are some of my favourite books which touch on relationships, values, and harmony with nature.