I believe that creativity is one of the pillars of living a healthy and fulfilling life. And, because I try to live out the principles that I write about each week and not merely talk about them, every few months I set out on a photography trip to create art, explore the world, and learn a thing or two along the way.
This photo essay was created on the Isle of Skye, the largest island in a chain known as the Inner Hebrides of Scotland. As always, all photos are my own.You can browse larger versions of these photos in the full Scotland gallery.
Just a few minutes outside the town of Uig on the Isle of Skye, south of the River of Conon, there is a magical place known as Fairy Glen. Fairy Glen is made up of over 400 miniature, cone-shaped hills and grassy knolls. There is a winding, one-lane road that leads to and from the glen. (Isle of Skye, Scotland)An old stone wall begins to fall apart inside Fairy Glen. (Isle of Skye, Scotland)Heath and heather bushes cover the countryside in purple as sheep graze by a stream on the Isle of Skye. (Isle of Skye, Scotland)Two hikers begin a long trek across the Quiraing on the Isle of Skye. (Isle of Skye, Scotland).
The impact that external stimuli can have on behavior is well-known. I have written previously about choice architecture and how it can be used to drive better health habits.
These effects go beyond the physical environment. Your friendships matter too. One popular study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, tracked 12,067 people for 32 years and found that “a person’s chances of becoming obese increased by 57 percent if he or she had a friend who became obese.”
The people we connect with and the places we live in often determine our behavior and habits as much as we do ourselves.
The good news is that, at least to a certain degree, your environment is within your control. If you want to change your behavior, then change your environment. Even small adjustments can make a difference. One of the simplest ways to do this is to “design for laziness” and make default options healthier or more productive, which is a strategy I covered in detail here.
Here are some other examples to get your creative juices flowing:
Rather than going home after work, stop by a new place like a park or a hiking trail (or a gym, if that’s your thing), and let the new environment be a blank slate for your new behavior rather than trying to force yourself to overcome all of the old triggers at your home.
Move to a bigger room or surround yourself with expansive architecture away from the normal space that drives most of your thought patterns. (More on the link between architecture and behavior here.) It is likely that you have some autopilot shopping habits right now. Try going to a new grocery store and developing a different routine of selecting food. You may find it much easier to avoid unhealthy food when your brain doesn’t automatically know where it is located. (You can even use my outer ring strategy to avoid most of the processed food.)By simply removing yourself from an environment that triggers all of your old habits, you can make it easier to break bad habits and build new ones.