The best way to change someone's experience and behavior is to change the environment their in.
When everyone is having the same struggles and sharing those struggles, you cease to feel alone.
Being genuinely, authentically needed and relied upon is the glue that holds communities together.
The more relaxed you are, the happier & productive you become. Taking time to actively cultivate relaxation is essential to a fulfilling life.
It's a simple idea with profound implications: Instead of just managing behaviors, focus on managing environments first.
In order to relax, go to a relaxing place. In order to connect with other like-minded, accepting individuals, go to such a place.
In other words: People in certain environments tend to do the things that those environments promote and give access to.
"It has long been known that various aspects of the built environment impact on people in buildings, but this is the first time a holistic assessment has been made that successfully links the overall impact directly to learning rates in schools. The impact identified is in fact greater than we imagined and the Salford team is looking forward to building on these clear results"
Professor Peter Barrett
School of the Built Environment
University of Salford
See The Study Here
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In 2013, a team lead by Professor Peter Barrett of the University of Salford in the UK conducted a study using 751 kids from 34 different classrooms across 7 schools in the UK.
They were looking for the impact (if any) that the built environment had on the children's ability to learn & make progress. Measuring 6 different design parameters (color, choice, connection, complexity, flexibility and light), they found something quite impactful.
The difference between the "best" designed classroom (lots of light, bright colors, comfortable furniture, etc) VS the "worst" designed classroom (florescent lights in a concrete dungeon essentially) was equal to a 25% difference in learning potential.
This same impact has been shown in a wide variety of areas, from supermarkets to hospitals to office buildings & homes.
In short: The environments that we spend most of our time in drastically affect our mood, performance, health, and ability to easily socialize.
Find your tribe. It's a phrase that has started to pop up in the cultural conversation, and is a perfect description of what we do.
We help those who fit into a different mold, grow at their own pace and dance to their own beat connect with others like them.
Because when everyone is awkward and weird, no one is.
"People are afraid when they are surrounded by the unfamiliar; the unfamiliar is dangerous. But so long as this fear is an unsolved problem, it will override the rest of their lives. Self-actualization will only be able to happen when this fear is overcome; and that in turn, can only happen, when people are in familiar territory, among people of their own kind, whose habits and ways they know, and whom they trust."
Author of "A Pattern Language"
Read More On His Website
Standardizations are a great tool that we use in society to measure one thing against another. That same concept, however has bled into our cultural story. The one that informs us how to behave, how to succeed, what is important and how to relate to one another.
With a focus purely on what we call a "monocultural norm", the people who don't fit into the very narrow definitions of what society has deemed to be "successful" get marginalized and pushed away.
But when those people gather together in community, their quirks, fascinations and odd habits normalize.
Example: On a normal day, in a normal town, it would be considered weird to walk around in a dragon costume. But when you go to a comic-con, with everyone walking around in all sorts of costumes, it is no longer weird, but accepted and welcomed.
When we gather together with likeminded individuals, and are supported by spaces & environments that promote healthy deviation from the monocultural norm, we can let our guard down, find our people, and make genuine, deep connections.
All humans have a very real need to find their place. That sweet spot where they are of genuine service to others, feel genuinely needed and are relied upon.
Rather than focusing on fostering independence, we grow interdependent cohorts that rely on each other, support each other and grow and mature together.
So that means not focusing on automation or avoiding work, but on providing opportunities for a wide variety of skill sets to shine, whether thats through employment, internship programs, volunteering or just visiting.
"In real communities, people depend on each other. They are forced to get along, because they need each other. They must learn to accommodate each other's faults. Acceptance is crucial to each person's survival. This stands in sharp contrast to most so-called "on-line communities," where exiting the community is as simple as hitting the delete key.
In former times, mutual dependency and the need for joint creativity cemented friendships and gave ample opportunity to become, in common cause, part of something greater than ourselves. In small farming communities, for example, neighbors and relatives would help each other with the harvest. They would help each other with the many projects that were too big for one family, like building a barn or a house.
They would care for each other's animals during times of illness, mourning, weddings, and the like. They also depended upon each other—people they knew personally—for entertainment, music, stories, and other forms of culture, of which they were not mere consumers but coproducers. Sometimes their very survival depended on cooperation."
Philosopher, Author & Speaker
Author of "The Ascent of Humanity"
Keep Reading This Quote On His Website
For most of human history, we lived together in tight-knit tribes of people. Everyone knew everyone else, and whether they liked it or not, they supported each other.
While the modern world has given us many things, it has taken that idea of living in tight community and pushed it to the fringe.
That works great when you are someone who has a strong ability to seek out and maintain friendships, but for those with Asperger's, Autism, Anxiety, Depression or plain ol' awkwardness, having to actively work hard to maintain social relationships isn't a viable option, and the end up lonely and shut away from the world.
"Being connected to others socially is widely considered a fundamental human need - crucial to both well-being and survival," says psychologist Julianne Holt-Lunstad from Brigham Young University.
"There is robust evidence that social isolation and loneliness significantly increase risk for premature mortality, and the magnitude of the risk exceeds that of many leading health indicators" she explains on a statement made on the APA website.
This is a serious problem.
So what do we do about it? Bring back the focus on interdependence. Create communities & living systems that don't focus strictly on automation and maximum efficiency. There's a place for that. But there's also a place for choosing to do something the old fashioned way just so that we can create one more spot for someone to feel genuinely needed, appreciated and valued.
The more relaxing you do the more relaxed you are. Simple concept, right?
In todays frantic, stressful world, it seems like there aren't enough places that encourage a pause. A time to step back, relax, and go read a book in a hammock.
We're setup to provide deep relaxation and rest, so that everyone can get to a place of peace & stillness (some for the very first time!).
"Areas in the temporal cortex that are assumed to inhibit fight, flight, or freeze reactions are not activated in people with autism or schizophrenia, who have difficulty with social engagement.
Individuals with anxiety disorders and depression have compromised social behavior; difficulties in regulating heart rate, as reflected in measures of vagal control of the heart and reduced facial expressiveness."
Dr. Stephen Porges
Professor of Psychiatry
Author of "The Polyvagal Theory"
Read More On His Website
There's a very powerful stress regulation system in your body that most people haven't heard about. It's called the "Vagal Brake", a function that is performed by the Vagus Nerve, which, among other things, is responsible for regulating the state of the nervous system (rest & digest VS fight or flight).
As Dr. Stephen Porges says in the quote in this section, people with Asperger's, Autism, Anxiety & Depression have trouble regulating their vagus nerve. In short: They get stressed easily and stay stressed for long periods of time, because they can't switch out of fight or flight as easily as others can.
We've found that the best way to help that population maintain a low level of stress is through a consistent & thoughtful practice of relaxation, performed as an active activity, instead of something passive.
Philosopher, Author & Speaker, Charles advocates for a world view he calls "The New and Ancient Story", where we recognize that connection & inter-dependent being, as opposed to separation & control, are the basis of a healthy society.
Visionary architect & philosopher, Christopher Alexander is responsible for "A Pattern Language", a system of design that creates buildings & spaces that promote a sense of community & liveliness. We also highly suggest his book "The Timeless Way of Building".
Professor of Psychiatry and author of "The Polyvagal Theory" which helps lend understanding to the mechanisms that control the fight or flight response (and regulation there of) in humans.
Meaning "Forest Bathing" this practice, common in Japan but spreading throughout the world helps deeply relax you and provide therapeutic benefit through walking in a forested area.
"Permaculture is a philosophy of working with, rather than against nature; of protracted and thoughtful observation rather than protracted and thoughtless labour; and of looking at plants and animals in all their functions, rather than treating any area as a single product system." - Bill Mollinson
One of the oldest healing methods of humanity, hydrotherapy is the use of hot and cold water for medicinal purposes. We use it for relaxation and rejuvenation, in the tradition of bath-houses and spa facilities around the world.