The foundation of a healthy life, part 7: does your living space suit you?
Lifestyle is one of these terms which can mean several different things. Google lifestyle and you will get to see a whole range of websites. The topics will probably range from sports to travel to which pillows to put on your couch. So let’s determine what we’re talking about it in this blog.
By lifestyle I mean all of the choices you make to organize your life. The interior of your house is not so much something that I need to discuss, but rather what choices you make when it comes to your living arrangements. Do you live in a small or big house? Do you live in the city or in the countryside? Do you prefer to live in an apartment or in a house with a garden? These are all choices that are pre-eminently personal and will make you feel at home in your own life, or not.
Do you live here because you want to, or because it is expected of you?
Now, I have lived in no less than seven different locations over the past ten years, and that’s only counting those places where I lived for at least three months. That is also a choice. Deciding where you live seems like an obvious choice that you yourself make. You will be surprised, however, how many people live somewhere because they feel they are expected to. Because their parents live there. Because it is close to work. Because it is too exciting to move, even though they secretly dream of a different place to call home.
Maybe you are one of those people, now that you think about it. Choosing to live somewhere other than in your ideal location is just as much of a choice and, if you’ve made that choice consciously, there is nothing wrong with that. But if you weren’t aware of it and your choice turns out to be the reason why you cannot feel at home in your own life, then it is a problem.
That’s where common sense comes in. By examining your prejudices about what good living is and using your instincts, you may find that you don’t live in the right place and that this is a problem for you. Or not. The latter is always nice, because moving is very stressful, take it from me.
Working towards a situation that suits you
My truth is that it is nonsense that you should always live in the same location, even if that location is your property. That’s not a popular truth, I can tell you. Many people get very anxious when they ponder my way of life. They usually project their own ideas about the right way of living on me and will then try to convince me that their way is the right way and that I’m not so smart.
But I’m actually very smart, well, for me at least. I’m working towards a situation which works for me. That is a fixed base where my things are, which I can always return to, but is, at the same time, the space I leave every now and then to be somewhere else for a while. By the time everything will fall into place, my kids will be big enough to choose what they want and life according to Emma – and luckily my hubby, who is just as eager to travel- can start.
Not your way of living? Fine, you don’t have to. I hope you get to know how to arrange your living situation as well as I do.
You cannot please everyone, so at least you can try to make yourself happy
The point is that there is no unambiguous correct way. Lifestyle is something very personal. Since your lifestyle only affects you and possibly your family, this is the part of life that will be easiest for you to organise the way it suits you. That sounds like it’s pretty self-evident to live life your way, doesn’t? Well, I’m afraid there might be some hiccups.
Your environment usually will have an opinion on how you live your life and one thing is for sure: you cannot please everyone. Never. So do what makes you happy. Another thing you can count on: if your way of living differs a lot from the norm, you can expect a lot of resistance.
Deviating from the norm is only statistics
The norm is literally nothing more and less than what the vast majority of a population thinks of something, so that which the larger majority considers to be normal. For example, say that 80% of the people in your area likes to have breakfast as soon as they get up, then that’s the norm. If you happen to eat breakfast when you get hungry, sometimes at eleven, sometimes later, your breakfast habits are not considered normal.
However, what the early breakfasters have lost sight of is that, before we had jobs and so on, we always ate when we were hungry. Breakfast means nothing more than starting to eat. There is no time attached. The English word shows that nicely. Breakfast is made up of two words: break and fast, referring to the breaking a period of fasting.
In fact, hunger was the reason we would start looking for food. It could take a while from the moment our stomach started to rumble until we’d actually sit down to eat. Having breakfast immediately after getting up is far from logical, genetically speaking. We have been taught to do this because it’s easier to group meals around paid work. Nice and efficient.
However, it has nothing to do with health. On the contrary, it’s much healthier to stick to the original rhythm. After all, we were made for that.
What if your lifestyle deviates from the norm?
If your living habits do not correspond to the norm, you belong to the minority who want to do things differently. This can cause friction, because many people live in a way that actually does not suit them. Those people will also have a gut that tells them that something is not working for them, but, at the same time, they don’t understand where that feeling of unrest is coming from. Instead of examining their own feelings with regard to your decision, they’ll try to convince you of the logic of their way of life.
However, most aspects of the ‘normal’ human lifestyle have nothing to do with logic. To return to the previous example: your head can cry that it is more convenient to eat when the factory is closed as loud as it wants, but your stomach really doesn’t care. Your stomach may not be hungry at six in the morning. Finding the right lifestyle should be done with your feelings and not with your ratio. It is not without reason that we talk about “feeling at home somewhere”. I’ve never heard anyone say she reasoned at home.
Make yourself at home in your own life
It goes without saying that it is important to feel at home in your own life. That’s why every small step towards a lifestyle that suits you feels like coming home. All you need to organise your life to suit you is grow a skin that’s just that bit thicker.
Nothing is more personal than lifestyle. It is therefore very possible that the examples that I will give in the blogs below do not mean anything to you. That doesn’t matter at all. I want to use the examples to illustrate how it works for me. The process is ultimately the same, although the outcome probably isn’t.