How to Influence Your Environment For Positive Change

I’ve been binge watching Shameless the past month.

That’s what happens when I don’t travel. I escape into story. My addiction to the show’s as strong as Franks dependence on alcohol. Frank is the chaos-causing father of six unique kids whose bi polar mother is more out than in the picture.

I keep coming back for more because I love how each individual character responds to their run down, addiction fueling, working-class environment.

One brother escapes genetics unscathed with a brain that craves learning more than drugs. He aims to beat the poverty right out of his backstory by going to college, but his family dynamics keep sucking him back in.

His younger brother wound up with the same mental illness as his mother. Combined with his external environment his work will be challenging, but given the right support, not impossible.

We’re all working with a different mix of internal and external environments. The way these are packaged make for great TV; and the way we influence both make for a great life.

In yoga, the environment of our physical body dictates practice progression as much as the external environment created by our teacher. We don’t have a lot of control over either of these factors.

But we have influence.

We could choose to keep practicing yoga to the best of our ability, or view it all as a waste of time and give up.

We could choose to pour a soda the night before class or opt for a second glass of wine.

We could bemoan the fact that our external environment isn’t right for our needs (easy to do when you’ve just returned from island getaways and weekend retreats), or we could make do with what we’ve got and work towards creating the best conditions that lead to environmental upgrades.

We could accept where we are, then start where we’re at. We could ask for help if we have no idea where to begin.

Blissed Out In Belize - Where All Environments Line Up.

Blissed Out In Belize - Where All Environments Line Up.

When I first started teaching yoga in Auckland, there was no lululemon and a handful of vinyasa studios. Where and what we practiced in was limited. We’re a small island and change has been long, and slow.

That’s not a bad thing. Change doesn’t have to be quick and fast. Most of the times sudden change sends us back to our comfort zone, like Frank spending all his insurance money on drugs, drink, and woman in one night and waking up as broke as the day before the cheque arrived. The change in his external environment was so swift his internal response couldn’t keep up.

We can create a slow change by choosing a concrete goal. Then, like Debbie planning to lose her virginity, we can break that goal down into small manageable steps and create a timeline with magazine cut outs to go with it.

Over time, the small changes we make in both our internal and external environments affect each other and create positive feedback loops.

If you want to change something in your external or internal environment, and I’m guessing you do otherwise you wouldn’t have read this far, (either that or you a friend or member of my immediate family), first decide which one you have more control over.

Could you change your external environment by loading fresh vegetables into the fridge, cooking vegetarian once a week, or putting your sneakers by the front door?

The extra nutrition and exercise will influence the biochemistry of your internal environment and encourage you to keep going.

Over time that will build into change that lasts.

Could you change your internal environment by creating a positive counter for one negative belief you carry, finding one thing to be grateful for each day, or practicing mindfulness?

These experiences could influence your external environment as you become more aware, more positive and more present in your everyday life.

If you choose to find the balance between what you can control in your external and internal environment, life gets smoother, leaving you free to enjoy the drama on screen.

Unless you choose to change your external environment by watching less Netflix and using the time to research your next travel destination.

Sri Lanka, anyone?