How your environment influences your state of happiness

Alexandra Zuber
Feb 17, 2019 · 7 min read

“When a flower doesn’t bloom, you fix the environment in which it grows, not the flower.” — Alexander Den Heijer

We often are made to believe that if we find inner peace, the environment doesn't matter. While that is partially true, let me explain why the environment still plays such a huge role when it comes to our feelings, mood, behavior, growth potential and productivity…

Disclaimer: Our life is not only influenced by our environment but also by our genes and of course especially by our actions/self-control. So, this article is not supposed to be used as an excuse to blame your circumstances on your environment, but to use your resources to take action for a fulfilled life which I will address as well.

1. Family & Upbringing:

We are heavily influenced by our immediate family. The programming with the most profound effect on us happens between the age of 0–7 and results in a deep imprint (sometimes trauma) having a lasting effect on us throughout our whole life. In that time your brain is in Alpha, Delta and Theta brainwave cycles which can be compared to a state of hypnosis, where we are most open subconsciously to learn and absorb any information like a sponge.

Image: Ned Herrmann, The Creative Brain

In those years is when we “take on beliefs, about ourselves and life, and many of these will remain unconscious throughout the rest of our lives, though they will show up in our behaviors, our achievements, our goals, how we choose our friends, our life partners and so on.(Read more about the brainwave cycles and their impact here.)

The age between 0–7 is when the environment affects us most! Vidal Balielo Jr via pexels.

Additionally, of course, our origin family has always (also in our adult life) influence on us because we usually care a lot about their opinion due to our a strong emotional bond with them.

The good news is that you can rewire your subconscious programming with inner work, energy healing, therapy, coaching, meditation, self-care practises and a lot of dedication to self-development and being selective about the people you surround yourself with!

2. Your living and workspace

  • How do you feel in a spacious bright room compared to a tiny place with one small window?
  • How do you feel when your desk/kitchen/bedroom is tidy versus messy?
  • How do you feel about living in the basement versus living in the attic floor?

Photo by tu tu on Unsplash

If you pay attention, you will feel a huge difference in terms of productivity and your vibration. From personal experience, I have trouble feeling my absolute best self when I am in a tiny dark room. I grew up living in the attic floor with a great view to the outside.

When I moved out from my childhood home to travel the world on a budget, and later into a shared flat in a big city, I noticed the difference immediately: Growing up in a spacious house in nature versus living in a big city with little space. I also noticed the different energy vibration in people and the atmosphere comparing all the various places I lived. There has to be a reason why so many people swear by Feng Shui and living in the countryside.

3. People you surround yourself with

You are the average of the five people you hang out with the most” is how a famous saying by Jim Rohn goes! I could not agree more! Choose wisely!

If you ever lived with a negative-minded parent or flatmate or had a or toxic boss or work colleague, you can probably immediately relate to how much of an influence the type of people in your environment has. Even if you like your work, if the people in this environment are unpleasant, you just want to quit that job.

Helena Lopes via pexels

You can use the power of like-minded people to your advantage: As an example, studies even found that “we are more likely to engage in an exercise program if we surround ourselves with the fit and health-oriented people” or teenagers are more likely to engage in illegal activities if their friend group does those kinds of things!

Our biggest desire is to belong, so naturally, we tend to become more like the people we spend our time with!

4. Culture & Country:

The World Happiness Report” (amongst other studies) shows that our environment (in this case the country we live in) has a significant effect on our well-being.

The factors examined in this study are

  • Income
  • Health & Life Expectancy
  • Social Support
  • Freedom
  • Trust
  • Generosity

Finland, Norway & Denmark made it to the top three happiest countries due to the result of those six categories ranking high.

The highest suicide rates according to the World Health Organization are in places with

  • Deep rural poverty
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Easy access to deadly pesticides

such as Guyana in South America where the suicide rate is four times higher than the global average!

  • Human rights violations
  • Economic hardship and stress

which is the case in North Korea ranking second in the statistic.

  • Social pressure and family problems

such as place three: South Korea

This study clearly proves how big a role our environment plays.

5. Natural environment:

I think I don’t need to spend too much time on this point. Everyone usually feels better when there is

  • Daylight: Your hormones react to produce less melatonin, a hormone that is dependent on light. We produce more melatonin toward the evening, as the body gets ready for sleep. In winter months when the days are shorter, melatonin levels may peak earlier or later in the day, which can lead to mood changes and eventually to “Seasonal-affective-disorder”
  • Sunlight: Exposure to sunlight increase the brain’s release of the hormone Serotonin which is the “Happiness Hormone”
  • Air, Water, Earth & Nature: Psychological studies found that “Nature relatedness has a distinct happiness benefit beyond the more generalized benefit of feeling connected to family, friends, and home” (Psychology Today. Price-Mitchell. 2014)

I think we do not need studies for this as we naturally feel really good lying on the grass, swimming in the ocean or breathing in fresh air. Do you agree?

So, the next time you feel sad without a real reason, try to get out in nature and see if it helps :)

6. How can you take control of your environment or your feelings if you can't change your environment?

As adults, we have choices all the time, so please don’t forget that. Even if you think you are married hence cannot get out, feel “stuck” in a toxic environment at your job, think because you own a house in this city now, there is no way to move somewhere else. YOU ALWAYS HAVE A CHOICE!

  • Take full responsibility of your environment: Instead of asking “Why is this happening to me?” ask: “What can I do about it?”
  • Heal your childhood trauma by working with a mentor, healer, therapist or coach! Forgive your caretakers!
  • Minimize your interactions with “friends”, co-workers and family members who are negative, discouraging and bitter
  • Be mindful of your choice of work and living space. Make it a habit to declutter regularly.
  • Avoid watching negative news on TV or and unfollow uninspiring or toxic people on social media.
  • Make it a habit to get out in nature, even if it is just 30 minutes a day (e.g. directly before or after work) Consider the nature aspect when you are looking for a place to live. Spend full days in nature on the weekend!
  • Surround yourself with positive and like-minded people. Search online and go to meet-ups and events where you can find your kind of people.
  • Join networking or mastermind groups, or find an empowering coach or a mentor.
The blooming flower! :) Photo by monicore from Pexels

I hope you enjoyed this long read. I am always happy to read your comments below. Always remember:

“Love it, leave it, or change it!”

If you enjoyed reading this, please feel free to clap, comment or share with others and recommend my content. I appreciate your support!

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If you want to read more about me and are looking for transformation, visit

Alexandra Zuber

Written by

Certified Coach, on a mission to inspire and empower driven souls to live their potential for a life full of meaning, freedom and impact!

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