You are your surroundings

“There is no question that the objects that surround us impact our experience of the world.” 

Katherine Center, Get Lucky


Have you ever heard the saying ‘you are who your closest 5 friends are’ or ‘you are your surroundings’?  Well there’s plenty of scientific evidence to back how much our psychology is influenced by our physical environment.

Whether it be our circle of friends, our lifestyle, or the suburb we live, each of these play a part in our happiness.  Where we live and the lives we lead can not only shape our feelings but the decisions we make.  Obviously the more aligned we are with our lives and lifestyle, the greater chance of happiness.

Why does this matter?

Everybody wants to be happy but many don’t understand how much influence we have over it.  From the language you use, to the way you communicate creates an environment for others to respond to, which in turn attracts your ‘tribe’ so being aware that you can change this is huge.

Think about this.  As our incomes have grown, so have the size of our homes.  We use to have one tv per person, now we have one bathroom per person yet we’re not any happier.  If you’re seeking to influence happiness, it’s time to focus less on the money you have to spend and more on changing your environments aesthetics and design.

The Data

  • Did you know an image of a briefcase can be a trigger for a person to behave more competitively? Even if the person has no memory of seeing the briefcase.
  • Sitting on a park bench in the middle of a city can have a profound effect on your psychology, cortisol and stress levels, just as being immersed in a forest.
  • Students sitting in an office with a professor surrounded by pictures of old people and hearing words like frail, grey, and old walked out of the office at a slower rate than when they arrived.  Students exposed to patterns of youth, vitality and energy walked out more quickly than they arrived.  Neither group were aware of the triggers.
  • We all know about the impact colour has on our psychology – read more about this in article ‘Colour in Design‘.


So how does this help you?

Understand that our physical environments are more important than you realise.  Whether it’s at home, the office or a restaurant, our surroundings directly influence our decisions and mood.  Therefore, by changing elements in your physical world can change your mood.  In a commercial sense, happy people equal higher productivity and lower staff turnover.


What to do about it?

Do your homework.  Understand the intent of the space before choosing design and decor.  Talk to a professional qualified designer or decorator who has a good understanding of design psychology.

Of course we each have a different relationship to design elements based on our personal upbringing and experience so stay true to yourself and don’t opt for todays trends if there is no emotional connection for you.


In Summary

Interior Design goes way beyond pretty things and aesthetics.  By understanding how textures, lighting, patterns and colour influence our psychology you can directly influence your happiness and mood.

Research conducted around psychology, neuroscience and interiors is indicating that we want – or need – our built and natural environments to unite more and more.  Perhaps in a sense we’re returning to our roots and realising we don’t need much to be fulfilled.

At the end of the day interiors should be designed with humans in mind and an understanding of how the space will influence the user, long after the designer has left.




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *