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Insights: Inspiring Places
April 05, 2011
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"May your walls know joy, may every room hold laughter, and every window open to great possibility."
- Mary Anne Radmacher
One action you can take relatively easily that will have a disproportionately positive impact on your life, is to upgrade your main living and/or working space.
I don't mean that you have to buy a new house or look for a new office - unless that's something you want to do and have the money for.
A modest makeover
No - what I am proposing is a modest makeover of your 'key spaces' that may require a bit of your time but needn't cost you very much at all.
Jenni, my wife has always been inspired by the art of Feng Shui - pronounced 'Fung Shway' and translating to mean 'wind/water' - an ancient Chinese system that uses interior design methods to promote positive energy and deflect negative energy.
Feng Shui has its roots in astronomy and the desire to create architectural alignments that would maximize access to the energy of the Universe.
Impact on one's well-being
Whether you are inclined to believe in the value of Feng Shui or not, there is a great deal of research that suggests that one's environment has a significant impact on one's well-being.
I enjoy watching some of the programs broadcast by the BBC in which couples and families seek their dream homes with the assistance of professional real estate agents.
There are a few terms that are almost always trotted out when couples like what they see in a home. For example "bright", "light and airy", "a good size", "good energy" and "bringing the outside in".
There's no question that light (preferably natural light), space (both size and shape) and access to nature (whether through great views, the use of plant life in or around the space or the proximity of running water) are all important factors in creating an environment that inspires.
Spaces are either happy, inspiring and productive - or they're not!
Inspiring amongst the uninspiring
During my period in corporate life I had the opportunity to work at a futuristic office park in Sunbury, south west of London. For those who may know Sunbury, it is probably best described as flat, bland and dull. But the business park, constructed in the heart of this uninspiring town, was anything but that.
The difference was in the clever use of the elements of nature to create a harmonious and pleasing environment for those who worked there. Low rise office blocks with large glass frontages, built in an oval formation surrounded a lush green park, dotted with water fountains and subtle coloured lighting effects, to create a peaceful, yet professional and productive haven.
Now this development was not exactly low budget but the point is that, no matter how uninspiring your current work or living space, you can resort to numerous low cost ways to bring about a marked improvement and enjoy the spin off benefits of greater happiness, more energy, more productivity and even better health.
Simple steps you can take
The first step I would advise you to take (from time to time I desperately need to do this, end up procrastinating, then breathe a sigh of relief and wonder why it took me so long when I finally get round to it) is to declutter.
Clutter is caused by the retention of 'stuff' that has no more productive use to you. By holding on to 'stuff' that you don't need but that could be put to good effect by someone else, you are contributing to an energy block.
Use it or lose it. Liberate your stuff and liberate yourself!
The next step is to find ways to bring more light into your environment. Can you create a new window, enlarge an existing one, break down internal walls or panels to create a more open plan feel or simply make clever use of mirrors to reflect light in from outside or resort to repainting your space in a bright white or off-white?
Office spaces in particular can often be rather clinical or sterile and can be improved in leaps and bounds through the subtle application of colour contrast, through pictures, furnishings and other artifacts.
Next, think about bringing a little bit of nature into your space by strategically positioning one or two beautiful leafy green plants where they catch your attention and offset the more mundane or stark features of the space.
Finally, a water feature or soft piped background music or both can add to the aural appeal of your space, taking away the harsh, intrusive man-made sounds like traffic and street noise and replacing them with softer, more pleasing, natural sounds.
Try assigning half a day
Try assigning just half a day to the improvement of the environment where you spend most of your time. Even if you are restricted to being able to do only one or two of the things suggested, you'll be amazed at the difference it will make.
Yours in happiness and productivity,
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