In-Between Thoughts 1.28.18: Creating environments

Finally shredding some of that holiday/prolonged guests-and-playing-and-eating-like-a-tourist fluff! Very slowly. Because #wine and #cheese and #carbs are too beautiful to forswear entirely. But I definitely had some wonderful times and eats the last few months, and those memories and times make me happy, just as getting back into my regular shape is making me happy.

The opportunity to see this is worth the extra fluff. No question.

And now on to our regularly-scheduled musings-on-life. I am amazed at how much better I am feeling now that I am no longer in a super toxic, condescending, obstructionist, sexist work environment. Seriously, I feel like a new person. I can concentrate again, I am excited to do the work, and I feel empowered to use the skills and talents I have to do my job well. I am stunned by how much better I feel and by how deeply I was affected by the shitty environment I was in.

It’s been an interesting transition, with me learning just how deeply I am affected by my environment. The Buddhists and Stoics may say that I need to work on separating the state of my well-being from the always-shifting condition of my environment, and while I agree, that will take a lot of mental revision and time and I am just not there yet. (Seriously, virtue may be its own reward blah blah blah but it’s not nearly as satisfying as being wrapped in a fuzzy blanket sipping red wine on a chilly night so get out of here with that hard-core asceticism ish.) Until I fully embrace my zen, here I am thinking about situations and environments and what enforced suffering does to people.

We have a certain amount of control over the environments of other people. Environments affect the well-being of other people. That means that we bear responsibility for the well-being and even virtue of others. Perhaps “share” is a better word than “bear.” Nonetheless, it’s ludicrous to expect the same level of performance or virtue from someone in a supportive environment than someone in an oppressive environment. (At least, in a general statistical sense — some people are really good at transcending their experiences, but I also imagine this has come after years of mental practice. And probably therapy.)

Of course this extends to all systems and to all expectations of human behavior. We need to take seriously the environments we create around us as individuals and those larger ones we create through participation (elections included). There is nothing more important than the well-being of other living creatures — the well-being of people most of all — and if we take this seriously, it will deeply affect everything we do. Absolutely everything. If my new work environment can make me feel this much better and is already enabling me to do more good work, then just imagine what the world would look like if we were committed to making healthy, well-being-conducive environments for all our fellow beings.


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