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The Power of Place

Our actions, thoughts, and feelings are shaped by our genes and neurochemistry, and history and relationships, and notibly by our surroundings

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The Power of Place: How Our Surroundings Shape Our Thoughts, Emotions, and Actions, by Winifred Gallagher (Poseidon Press, 1993), in my mind, became an instant classic. Here are my notes and excerpts from this insightful book:

Throughout history, people of all cultures have [rightly] assumed that environment influences behavior. Now, science confirms that our actions, thoughts, and feelings are indeed shaped not just by our genes and neurochemistry, and history and relationships, but also by our surroundings.

▪ The biology of behavior concerns the four elements of molecule, cell, organ, and organism, and the physical environment is important from the simplest level up through any stage in our development.

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▪ Burdened with increasingly complex social roles, we each need places that support rather than fragment our lives, and which balance the hard, standardized, and cost-efficient with what is natural, personal, and healthful.

From Cradle to Grave

The resounding theme of our relationship to the environment before birth applies throughout our whole lives, from the cradle to the schoolroom, the home to the workplace: our well-being depends on the delicate business of getting just the right amount of stimulation from our surroundings at the right time.

▪ One reason we work so hard to keep our various surroundings predictable is that we rely on them to help us move smoothly from role to role throughout the day.

▪ When you straighten things on the desk, get the coffee cup just so, and sharpen the pencils, you’re using environmental cues to help you destabilize whatever else is on your mind, get you out of that state, and stabilize the one associated with writing.

▪ A prominent researchers who spent 25 years studying the reactions of prisoners, submariners, the shipwrecked, and others who have dealt with situations so over- and understimulating that most of us experience them only vicariously in darkened theaters, is convinced that when it comes to stimulation levels in the modern world, within the bounds of reason, less is more.

Individual Needs

Our well-being depends on how successfully we deal with individual problems. If we soundproof the apartment, the noise outside no longer distracts us, and if we walk to work rather than ride the bus, we are no longer lost in the shuffle.

Other theories about the roots of urban malaise suggest that the constraints the city imposes on our behavior, such as traffic and crime, are to blame, or the fact that a metropolis is like a vast corporation in which the applicants for jobs and benefits exceed the available resources.

▪ Workers who want to improve their environments to increase their efficiency aren’t asking for the moon: the big items on most lists include quiet, a decent chair, easy access to tools, enough space to maneuver in, and the right to change furnishings around.

▪ Despite the obvious benefits to employees and employers both, however, the former are almost never consulted about the design of the places in which they do their jobs.

Go with the Flow

When we’re in flow, whether while playing the violin or climbing a mountain, our actions merge with our awareness. We stop being spectators of our own experience, which eliminates that ruminative self-consciousness that’s such a burden. We feel a sense of oneness with something larger than the self, whether it’s a musical tradition or nature or a deity.

▪ Because we’re concentrating on the present, our activity dictates our experience of time rather than the clock. This intense focus also means we forget our daily problems.

▪ People whose lives constantly are broken up into short segments and appointments have higher rates of suicide and heart disease because they are overloaded. We do not learn from our experiences unless we have adequate refractory periods in which to digest them.

Half a Loaf…

We can structure our human contacts in ways that can help us be happier, but the best most of us can hope for is to have satisfactory social encounters about half the time.

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Jeff Davidson is the world's only holder of the title "The Work-Life Balance Expert®" as awarded by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. He is the premier thought leader on work-life balance, integration, and harmony. Jeff speaks to organizations that seek to enhance their overall productivity by improving the effectiveness of their people. He is the author of Breathing Space, Simpler Living, Dial it Down, and Everyday Project Management. Visit www.BreathingSpace.com for more information on Jeff's keynote speeches and seminars, including: Managing the Pace with Grace® * Achieving Work-Life Balance™ * Managing Information and Communication Overload®



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Business

Pandora Papers, a box of trouble for whom?

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Pandoras box seems to be a well-known metaphor in today’s culture. It is often used to represent unknowingly opening a box of wop-ass. The Greek origins are a little more complex.  Pandora was the first human woman, a gift from the gods. She was made from earth to be lovely as a goddess. With the gift of speech to tell lies, and the mind and nature of a treacherous dog. She was given a golden crown of animals and sea creatures. Pandora was blessed with grace, desire and caring to weaken her limbs.

Pandora was the first woman to live among mortal men, first bride and great misery. She was destined to live with men in times of plenty and to desert them in hard times.  Her name means both “she who gives all gifts” and “she who was given all gifts”. In the mythology she opened a jar that belonged to her husband that contained every misery that affects man to today, but managed to close it before hope was able to escape the jar.

Which brings us to the latest document leak from the International Consortium of investigative Journalists or ICIJ. This is the latest of leaks following the Panama papers and the Paradise papers. ICIJ claims this is the largest leak of tax haven information ever. The 11.9 million financial records include information on 330 politicians and high level leaders, including 35 country leaders. For two years over 600 journalists from 117 countries helped to follow up leads exposed by the leak.

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Top leaders with homes in Malibu, Monti Carlo, and high rise towers in Dubai. Investments in sugar plantations, polluting factories, and even a hospital. Secret companies and Trusts to hide assets from taxes and their people. ICIJ likes to point out that this money could have been used to help build roads, hospitals, and schools. They also imply the money comes from ill-gotten gains. Pointing out that hiding money is also used during drug smuggling, human trafficking, bribery, and international terrorism.

In an effort to seem like actual investigative journalists they do mention that nothing they were fed was illegal.  They failed to mention that the tax regulations in every one of the countries involved are written by the rich themselves. Mostly by those not uncovered by the Pandora Papers. Something the 600 seemed to have over looked during their two year investigation is any tax avoidance from the United States. Funny thing that.

To find out why you need to look at who the International Consortium of investigative Journalists is and who finances them. It turns out the group was founded in 1997, they claim to take no public funds only donations. Their largest donors happen to be Soros, thru the The Open Society Foundation. Now needless to say Soros is not going to admit what each one of these people did to stop his march towards one world government headed by Soros and company, but we can speculate.

Tony Blair, supported the American action in Afghanistan. King Abdullanh met with and supported Israel. Vladimir Putin would rather not have a one world government telling him how to run Russia. Shakira no stranger to wokeness had the gall to disagree with the Conovirus imprisonment and demanded children be let outside into the sun and air. You can bet that each one of the targets of this dump had somehow displeased those supporting the great reset.

Each one of these thought they had found a beautiful tax haven not knowing it was she who gives all gifts and conversely she who is given all gifts. By selectively revealing that it is worthwhile to spend money to hide income from those who did not earn it is telling. Besides highlighting that taxes are too high for the services provided. Telling that not one American is mentioned. Telling that the “journalists” didn’t discover how politicians in government get rich on civil service salaries. Not one mention of the heads of NGO’s (non-governmental agencies) have found that the poor are very very good for them. How about a peek into how many of the 1.5 million tax exempt organizations in America are just a tax dodge.

We will wait with the patience of Job for the International Consortium of investigative Journalists to do some real investigating.

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The People Who Size You up Instantly

Beware of people who conveniently assess what you need, while missing the boat about their own needs

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I went to a social gathering and, arriving early, few others had arrived. So I took out my notepad and pen, and leisurely started making notes. A lady who saw me, asked what I was writing, which, of course, could be either a friendly way to start a conversation, or intrusive, depending on your point of view. I took it as the former, and shared with her my predisposition to take notes outside of my office where I generate ideas that don’t readily emerge at my desk.

Apparently my explanation was not satisfactory for her. In rapid succession she told me, ‘You need to get a drink. (Actually, I don’t drink.) You should to stop making notes. You ought to relax. (Making notes is relaxing to me.) You need to get a life.’

Paradoxically, I am the author of the books, Breathing Space and Simpler Living, and the audiobook, Get a Life. I also own the registered trademarks for the programs, Relaxing at High Speed and Managing the Pace With Grace. I have delivered 1,060 lectures on these topics for three decades.

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Quick and Wrong

It’s beyond strange when someone at a social gathering, in such short order, will assess what I need to do, with one pronouncement after another. When told that I needed to relax, I said, “If I was any more relaxed, I’d fall asleep.”

I came away from that experience recognizing that people who will readily tell you what you need are the ones who need what they’re telling you. You might have noticed a somewhat similar phenomenon in the workplace.

Suppose you work in a company that is crowded, noisy, and busy almost all the time. However, in your own office or cubicle, whichever the case might be, you’re able to maintain order.

Perhaps you have installed some sound barriers, if that is appropriate, and have crafted a workspace where you can get things done. People who walk by notice that your office equipment, resources, and possessions are organized. Guess what? Some office mates won’t tell you this, but they are uncomfortable with your organizing skills.

If they could find a simple way to articulate it, they would tell you, “Loosen up.” You don’t need to be so neat and orderly.” Why are they itching to tell you this? Because your level of organization makes them feel inadequate.

Be Like Me, I’ll Feel Better

Much like the lady at the social gathering, who told me ‘what I needed,’ some people in your immediate environment, in observing your capacity for taking charge of your space, and perhaps noting your higher-than-average level of productivity, would rather that you acted and proceeded in a different way. You might not hear that from them, but that is some might be thinking.

Beware of those people who so conveniently assess what you need, while completely missing the boat about their own needs. They fail to realize that what they’re telling you, is probably what they need to address for themselves.

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