Its the Environment Stu*?#!

“It’s the economy stu**#?!” was a famous catch phrase when Clinton ran for president and in a book by Paul Begala about George W. Bush’s presidency. As the title states, “It Still the Economy, Stupid”.

book by Paul Begala

This idea seemed to catch on because the economy seemed to be instrumental in peoples lives. Most people cared about the economy because they thought the state of the economy would have an impact on their lives.

Research continues to document that the things around us, such as the economy, greatly impact what we do and what we think. From a more general perspective, it’s not the economy, it’s the environment that is most influential.

Social Cognitive theory (also referred to as Social Learning Theory) explains how thoughts (cognitions), behaviors, and the environment continually influence one another. As any one of these factors changes, so do the others. Therefore, when we alter the environment, our thoughts and behaviors will also change, reciprocally. It is what is referred to as reciprocal determinism. If you are interested in learning more, you can watch this short video.

The power of the environment drives many recommendations. The simplest recommendation is to have healthy food in your house, prepared, and it will more likely be the food you eat. This simple point was driven home for me when I saw how we changed our home environment for our new puppy. For some reason he liked to play with our bolt cap covers on the bottom of the toilet (see pictures). To solve the problem, we put out toys and removed the bolt cap covers. He now plays with better toys and we don’t have a problem. All of this happened by “simply” changing the environment. How can you change your environment to get the outcomes you desire?

Simplicity, however is sometimes overrated, there is always more than one causal factor and this alone make simplicity incomplete. Still, Einstein was a fan,

“Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”

Albert Einstein

For a great discussion on simplicity I recommend Steven Dubner & Angela Duckworth’s “No Stupid Questions“, podcast episode #104, “How Simple Is Too Simple?

Creating an Environment to Get Desired Outcomes

Preparing healthy food and having it available in my home generates a health promoting environment that makes health more likely. Making healthy food available is a time multiplier (see Be Fruitful and Multiply – Time That is…) I find myself, upon reflection, using time multiplier options all the time. Many actions, that take time initially, can create an environment more likely to generate desirable outcomes. For instance my wife and I share the notes App on our iPhones. It took time to set up, however now whenever we run low on things, or need to get something, we put it on our shared list and we are more likely to get and have things in our environment that we need. In this way, our digital environment helps our home environment.

Idea from this post: Design your environment to make your desired outcomes more likely. The environment enables or inhibits desired outcomes. Though it will take some work initially to create the environment you want, the time spent creating that desirable environment, will save your time – as Rory Vader explains, it is a Time Multiplier.

Behaviors Become Habits

It is important ot remember that any action taken sets the foundation for a habit. (see What We Do Without Thinking, Sharing “Atomic Habits” Wisdom from James Clear … and more. The environment we live in determine if engaging in that behavior will be easy or more difficult. Understanding this means we should design your environment to make desired behaviors easier so a better life can take care of itself because as behaviors become habits, it will be what we do without thinking. Habits are also great time savers, or time multipliers.

Please share how you design you environment to generate comprehensive benefits by enabling more net-positive, pervasive, reciprocal, selfish, selfless, synergistic interactions so everyone and everything benefits.

Be Well’r,
Craig Becker

Be selfish, selfless, & synergistic so everyone and everything benefits!


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