Environment controls us. We do not control our environment. We’re suckers to believe it is the other way around. We are environmentally-dependent. In fact, we’re different people given the environment in which we’re located. We act differently at the bar than we do at work. We act differently at home than we do at work. We act differently at church than we do at the gym. We act differently at the in-laws’ house than we do at the ballgame. We certainly act differently at the Raiders’ tailgate than we do at an acquaintance’s house.
It goes the same way with food. We eat differently at McDonalds or Sonic than we do at a local seafood restaurant with healthier choices. We eat differently at In-n-Out Burger than we do at Eat-Fit-GO. We eat differently at Pizza Hut than we do at AssWhole Foods. Like the Patriots vs. the Browns, food choices defeat us so regularly it isn’t even a contest. Food: 10. Us: 0.
Look at Starbucks vs. the bar, any bar. What are people doing at Starbucks? Talking, working, laughing, staring at screens, and getting caffeinated. What are people doing at the bar, any bar? Talking, working (yes, some actually are), laughing, staring at screens, and getting wasted. The big difference is in what the environment serves its customers. This environment controls customer choices. Yes, customers choose to hang out there, but the environment, the one specifically designed by the merchant, shapes customer choices. It isn’t as obvious as it sounds because we’re typically too deep in it to realize it or to question it. Meanwhile, this environment shapes us over and over and over again.
Look at work environments with a toxic culture. Toxic work cultures abound. In today’s abundant economy, this is a tragedy, but it is entirely avoidable. How do you avoid it? You don’t go to work for a company with a toxic culture. A toxic workplace is infested from the top-down. Where do you think the phrase, Shit rolls downhill, comes from? Toxic workplaces. No one else would think to coin such a phrase because shit doesn’t roll downhill when it happens at employee-centric, happier workplaces. (Shit ceases and is dealt with at the V. P. level.)
Happy employees almost never survive the toxic work culture unless the environment morphs these poor people into negative, cynical sycophants. They’d be better off if the toxic environment had spit them out. Sadly, Happy employees, as a singular group, stand little chance against the Monster of toxic organizational culture. They’re better off taking their happiness to a workplace where it is valued and encouraged, even incentivized.
Some argue that we have control over our environment, that we in fact control it. This is true within the context of choice: we choose where we hang out. We choose to go to the bar. We choose to go to the gym. We choose to go to the tailgate. We choose to go to Disney World. But often what happens there is beyond our control. This is the catch. Therefore, our environment has control over us that we never saw coming. It makes it difficult to know what degree of control we have there. Worse, what if we don’t like what’s going on there? What then? The best we can do is choose not to hang out in the environment.
Environment and the people we hang around are critical to our success and life satisfaction. They make or break us. They support us or drag us down. They build us up or tear us down. Again, it is all up to us where we choose to hang out and who we choose to hang around. All on us. There is no one else to blame. You could blame the negative environment, but it is your choice to be in there. Yes, this includes the toxic workplaces mentioned above. Where we work is a choice, too. No one’s forcing them upon you.
Be keen on your environment. Notice how you feel within it. Notice how you act within it. Notice how you act differently within different environments. If you don’t like how you act or feel within one, maybe you should minimize your time spent in there. Or, don’t go in there at all. If it has a truly negative effect upon you, then that means you’re negatively affecting others, and you don’t want to do that. Often these environments are stronger than us and will dismantle our willpower rapidly. There aren’t many people out there that can hang out at a Dunkin Donuts and not have three to six glazed donuts in one sitting. Willpower only goes so far.