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Aesthetic_Mess's avatar

How much does your environment affect you?

Asked by Aesthetic_Mess (7858 points ) February 29th, 2012

I’m not talking family-wise or having to do with people, but your actual physical environment.
How much of an affect does it have on you? Or is supposed to?
I’m trying to figure out how much of how I feel right now is because of my physical environment, and how much of it is just me being an idiot.
I know that quote “Wherever you go, there you are,” but I want to know how much “where you go” affects “how you are.”
This is going to sound cliche coming from someone my age, but I hate living in the suburbs. For 70% of my life I’ve lived in them, and I hate being here. I feel sluggish and don’t get excited about anything. I get restless and frustrated that I have to learn to drive and will have to drive everywhere I go, mainly to get to some retail job and the mall. I’d much rather be in a city like Philadelphia (where I spent the other 30 %) or New York, where I was born.
But I don’t know how much of that is me being stupid.

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19 Answers

picante's avatar

Very much. I’m sensitive to light, sound, color, texture, spatial distance and other factors too numerous to mention. I’ve walked into office buildings with the industrial gray walls and cell-like cubicles, and I can feel the tension mounting. I’m fortunate to be in a position so that I could design and decorate our office environment, and it feels like home.

I don’t like crowded spaces, so again, I’m fortunate that I could build a home in the country. I don’t think your feelings are stupid at all @Aesthetic_Mess—I feel your pain!

tom_g's avatar

I grew up in Massachusetts, so when I lived in California for a year, my entire lifestyle changed. First of all, I was much more active because the weather was always perfect. There were no bugs, and it seemed embarrassing to sit inside – ever. A few months after I moved there, we had our first rain. My neighbors all ran outside to frolic in the rain. It was something to celebrate. Something new.

When I moved back to Massachusetts due to financial (and other) reasons, I would long for CA and the beautiful weather. Lately, however, I suspect that part of that whole experience was really just me experiencing something different. What if you grow up there? Do you just take it for granted and fail to see the beauty in the climate?

I don’t think that I’m alone in taking for granted things that I’ve had for only a short time – never mind a lifetime. I don’t wake up and think, “wow, I do not live in a war zone! How lucky I am. How amazing is this.” I wake up and go outside in the cold weather and complain that I have to scrape ice off my windshield.

blueiiznh's avatar

It affects us just as much as people are different. You stated it yourself in how you feel different in different surroundings. Some people are more rural, suburban, or city like.
If you feel more yourself in a different surrounding, then go for it! Change is good. Do it while you can and sieze the energy that you are drawn to.

Blackberry's avatar

I don’t miss the weather of the Pacific Northwest. As much as I hate to admit it, I would rather live in a place I didn’t like with nice weather, than a place I love with crappy weather.

Also, since I’ve been driving for so long, I get impatient on public transportation. I was used to using it in Portland, OR, but after living in FL, MS, and central NJ where having a car is more important, it’s hard to go back.

JLeslie's avatar

I think it has tremendous affect. Living in Florida changed my life! Being in sunshine, blue skies, humidity, and warm temperatures made me happy, comfortable, and grateful about life in general. I think it was Michael Bloomberg, but I might be mistaken, I once heard in an interview say that where you live is one of the most important choices you make. In Florida we call it a lifestyle choice.

I would say I know several couples who divorced partly to do with disagreements over where to live. I always say that is a huge issue in marriages, do both people like where they live? But, my family is one that does move and on my husband’s side the moves are sometimes to other countries, so it is a very real issue in my family and peers.

I don’t think you are stupid at all. My grandma moved back to the city in her 70’s. To Manhattan where she had season tickets to the Met, and got together for bridge with girlfriends, and her groceries were delivered, because she no longer could carry heavy bags with her developing back problems, and she did not have to drive as her reaction times while driving diminished, and she could easily walk or take a bus to a restaurant or Bloomingdale’s or central park. I think the city in many ways makes more sense for the elderly than the young. Not that I am calling you old or anything. :)

I just got back from NYC yesterday, and I am not very attracted to all the noise and crowds, and I prefer to live in a slightly bigger living space than I could afford there, but I love the convenience, not having to drive, and not having to cook as much and still can get healthy food. I prefer an active adult community in FL that has all the conveniences close by, especially if you can walk or golf cart to everything. I want it now, even though I am only 44.

zenvelo's avatar

I think it is very important. I live in Northern California, and I’ve never gotten tired of the landscape and the weather. I have visited Chicago numerous times, and know I could not live there because it is so flat. And Florida seems like nothing but a flat swamp to me.

It’s location too: I lived in Santa Barbara for over six years. I loved it except it was so far from anything else. It’s the one thing that has bothered me when I think of living/retiring in Hawaii.

marinelife's avatar

It totally affects your mood and how you are. My husband and I found the same thing about the suburbs after living in them for several years.

AshLeigh's avatar

I think it depends. In my home I’m comfortable, and I feel however I feel.
At school I have this melancholy sort of feeling.
But there are other places, places with memories, good or bad, that are gone now. And those places make me sad. It’s a feeling that feels like is shouldn’t belong. Something that tips the world on its axis.
But there are also places I can only go to in my mind. Those are my favorite kind of places, because I can create them myself. And that effects my mood drastically. A lot more than any physical environment can.

Coloma's avatar

I also agree our environment is extremely important. I’m with @zenvelo and also live in the northern California foothills which are beautiful and I too never get tired of the beauty of this area. I am also a former interior designer and feel our home environments are equally important. Our homes should reflect beauty, comfort and a sense of retreat, a haven for our souls. I was watching a movie last night set in L,A. and one scene was a crime situation in an inner city setting.

I caught myself taking in the surroundings and thinking ” OMG! I would die if forced to live in a concrete jungle again.

gailcalled's avatar

It is snowing now so that changes my mind set and my plans for today.

I start with the premise of “the power might go out.”

Then I make lists, invade my piggy bank, get off the computer, fill a bathtub and some stock pots with water and rush to town to stock up on food, gas, money, library books, and batteries.

When I return, if I am lucky, the power will be on so I can shower, shampoo and do a small laundry.

Yesterday I puttered around and admired all the snowdrops and crocuses in bloom and allowed myself to be lulled into a state of complacency.

deni's avatar

I lived for the first 20 years of my life in western pennsylvania, where people get drunk every night and drive around and kill each other, but freak out at the mention of a joint of weed. The majority are obese and never cook and love reality television, there is also still a good bit of racism and homophobia. That, for me, is very hard to tolerate. But, it was beautiful. I of course did not come to appreciate this until I moved away, but now when I visit, I don’t see the fat racists and instead focus past them onto the rolling hills and the beauty farmland and the pastures full of cows and colorful trees and winding roads that I absolutely LOVE. It’s overcast a lot though and rainy a lot, and that affected me a good bit. It makes you lazy as you don’t wanna go do anything outside when it’s constantly shitty out.

Now I live at the foot of the Rockies in a town where everyone is from somewhere else and absolutely loves where they are. I look at the mountains every day and think how lucky I am to live here. I get out and do something physical almost every day, and if I can’t because of snow I’m still way more motivated to do a workout indoors. Everybody is much friendlier and I find a have a great time just with people in general—strangers at work, etc. It’s great seeing how many people commute on their bikes….you never feel like you’re odd here, because being a sort of hippie/college/whatever town, it’s more like anything flies. If you wear anything out of the ordinary in PA you stick out like a sore thumb. It’s nice to not have to care.

Oh I could go on for days but oddly enough writing this is making me miss the countryside of Pennsylvania!!

wundayatta's avatar

My personal motto is that the suburbs are death. Much too reliant on cars. Living too far apart kills community. Things are too homogenous. It takes too long to get anywhere. There are isn’t enough diversity and not enough choices. Suburbs should not exist.

Of course environment affects you. It does so in so many ways and in such depth. Too numerous to even start listing and too strongly to even begin to describe.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

In my town we often get “inversion” in the winter months. The air quality goes way down and I can really feel it. I start feeling like I am coming down with something, but don’t ever get better or worse. Just when I am about to decide to see a doctor, I realize that it is the air quality. Once the air clears up, all is well again.

YARNLADY's avatar

I believe everything from the food we eat to the air we breathe to the water we drink is polluted and we are seeing more and more signs of it.

dabbler's avatar

I know what you mean about driving. I feel lucky to live where I never have to use a car to get where I’m going locally. I like riding the subway or bus, get some reading done, daydream.

jonsblond's avatar

I don’t see how it can’t affect a person. How can a person be happy if they aren’t comfortable with their surroundings? I know I would be miserable if I had to live in an urban environment. I have a sister who would be miserable if she had to live in the country like I do. A person will be happy if their environment suits their needs.

xnightflowerx's avatar

I honestly interpret this question more about environment in my home more then out of it (which is important too!)

For me, my home environment is really really important to me because its also my work environment. If I’m not comfortable and if I don’t have the space to work I get really miserable. As is what happened when I had an apartment with my ex and his friend. I had to keep half of my work studio in my sister’s basement a few blocks away, and half at the apartment, but I had no where that I could really work whenever I needed to at the apartment, and I constantly had to drag my work stuff around if I couldn’t work in my bedroom. But if I wanted to work and my ex wanted to sleep, I had to drag all my crap out out to our tiny table, and it was hard to get into my work groove when I had to try to be quiet because with my roommate was sleeping on the couch or one of their friends was sleeping there or hanging out and it just drove me crazy and I could never work efficiently and I made a whole lot less money then I could have that year because my environment sucked. It was worse when my sister had to move and I had to have all my work stuff at the apartment. Packed up in my closet, and my little work corner in my room, and my ex constantly bitched at me about how our closet was stuffed full of bolts of fleece and boxes, even though he owned barely enough possessions to fill a few small boxes. lol. /end ranty paragraph.

I live in a basement now. And its not ideal. But I have space for all my crap. No one bothers me too much and I like the people I live with. The cinder block walls feel a bit prison-y at times and its chilly but despite all that I like it alright. Currently working on turning it into an epic fort, which should’ve happened way sooner, but then my living environment will be amazing!

As for general location. Its important to me. But I care much more about just being in proximity to things I like to be near. Also I just appreciate places with communities that are important to me, like a thriving music scene, biking community, places to get good coffee, etc.

I have gotten over letting weather effect my mood or feelings of my living environment. I live in Michigan and our weather is full of mood swings, but I feel you should embrace the elements instead of going to such lengths to avoid and escape them. Everyone’s always depressed on rainy days. But man, just go walk through the rain, no umbrella, just experience this freaking awesome thing our planet does, water falling from the sky! That’s pretty cool if you ask me! I don’t let weather stop me from enjoying a day and making the most of it. I ride my bike on snowy nights when I have somewhere I wanna be. I end up having these delightful late night snow adventures with cool people I never would have had if I’d let the snow stop me. And I used to always use things like the weather as an excuse to not go out and live. These days, give me wind, give me rain, give me snow, give me hot muggy nights, give me perfect sunny days, I will find something to appreciate in all those things. They give me affirmation that I’m alive, and that I’m really living, and god damn I want more people to feel this way!

Aesthetic_Mess's avatar

@wundayatta I think so too.
@YARNLADY What do you mean by that?
Thank you guys for all your answers.

YARNLADY's avatar

@Aesthetic_Mess We are all adversely affected by the pollution that exists in the air we breathe, the food we eat and the water we drink.

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