DLW is an occasional blog about how people spend the time of their lives (every moment) to enable health, balance, meaning and fulfillment. As a blogspot about doing, it draws from personal stories and from studies of everyday living. It's main idea is that to be well, people must be involved fully in what they do. The activities that occupy our days help to connect us to the world, define who we are, and keep us healthy.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

The Ecology of Living —Share your personal efforts to live life well!

One important dimension of "doing life well" involves creating environments that are comfortable, satisfying and relaxing. Over the years, I have been a keen observer of the habits and practices of others that are directed toward creating comfortable experiences, wherever people find themselves.

The intention here is not to discuss or describe architectural or decorating features of environments, but rather to describe the objects and conditions that enable us to create the most comfortable person-environment fit that will suit our individual tastes regardless of where we are and what we are doing. Examples would include friends and colleagues who cherish the visual appeal of flowers to enhance their offices and homes, or the colleague who routinely carries the small comforts of home (traveling place mats and goblets) to enhance the experience of eating "on the go" when take out is necessary when traveling. Doesn't wine always taste better in real glass than from plastic or paper cups?

Some may regard these efforts as unnecessary or even silly, but I understand them as attempts to make the experience of everyday life more comfortable and enjoyable. Why not, I ask? Isn't this really part of the overall effort to live life to the fullest?

A colleague, occupational therapist and neuroscientist, Winnie Dunn, has written an interesting book about the senses, called Living Sensationally. In this delightful book, Dr. Dunn provides a clever and readable way to understand our senses, emphasizing that our unique sensory systems are a very important key toward enhancing our experience of living. After all, for each of us, perception defines our reality, and our perceptions, or experiences, must be processed through the senses, whether we are seeing, hearing, touching, feeling, smelling, or using a combination of these at the same time—as we typically are! Sometimes, our sensory systems get overwhelmed, but other times, we seek sensation, especially sensations that we find pleasing.

How do you please your senses and enrich your life? I invite readers to offer examples of their own personal routines and practices that improve and enrich the enjoyability and comfort of their personal spaces or make their travel experiences as comfortable and stress-free as possible.


  1. Anonymous2/08/2009

    As a student, I spend a lot of time in libraries and computer labs. Once in a while I like to enrich my studying experience by taking my books to a coffee shop with comfy couches, local artwork, and the wonderful smell of brewing coffee. Reading an article with a steaming mug of coffee or chai makes the experience much more enjoyable!

  2. Anonymous2/10/2009

    I really enjoy listening to music when I am doing work. It helps me tune out all of the other distractions when I am doing work at school. I often will bring a set of headphones and listen to the radio online. This helps me stay on task and actually makes the time and work go by much faster. If I don't have a computer near by, I will bring my I-pod so that I can listen to music while I'm in the library or another community room.

  3. Anonymous2/10/2009

    I spend time with people that I enjoy. This gives me a break from the stresses in my life, such as school and work! It doesn't really matter the context or environment in which I spend this time in, as long as I am happy and enjoying the break I get.

  4. Anonymous2/10/2009

    I am a person easily overwhelmed by environments with a lot of stimulation in them. Too much audio, visual and olfactory information stresses my system out. I have to find ways to shut out the world sometimes. I know lots of places that I can go on and around my college campus that are naturally stim-free, but when I'm traveling, or if I can't get to those places, I have to bring my haven with me. I have a knit hat and a favorite pair of sweats that I wear. I put on earphones and play very familiar music. I can shut out the extra stim that way and focus on what I need to work on, or just relax. When I'm sleeping away somewhere, I usually bring a book with me. Reading from the same book every night helps me de-stress and feel more familiar with the environment.

  5. Anonymous2/11/2009

    As a student, I am always working on assignments for a class that may or may not interest me. I spent a lot of my time working on things and do not have as much time for myself. When I do have time for myself, I enjoy relaxing with friends and family where we laugh and have fun. If I only have a few minutes between things, I enjoy listening to relaxing music or fun songs to sing to. I am able to escape to my own world for a little bit. Then I am able to concentrate more on what I have to do next.

  6. Anonymous2/16/2009

    I bring home cooked meals to school, and used to bring whole oats to microwave. Food that tastes natural makes me think of home. I enjoy making things from scratch in general to enrich my environment. I also enjoy living in a place where I can sit in front of a fire with animals, and have lots of books about. I also like to decorate my room with inspiring quotes and pictures that remind me of nature and my friends.

  7. Thanks for your comments!!!

  8. Anonymous2/23/2009

    I perform certain activities in specific contexts. When doing school work i get overwhelmed by a lot of visual and auditory stimulation. I always find spots that are quiet but comfortable such as the large chairs in the library that i can turn to face the wall. This helps me to concentrate and remain on task. However, when I want to relax i love to be in my room. My room has a lot of pictures of friends and family, the colors and pictures on the wall are vibrant, and the furniture is made comfortable with blankets and pillows including my computer chair. Recently,I have sewn my own pillows to put on my chair in my car to create a better travel experience.

  9. Anonymous2/25/2009

    A few weeks late, but here it is.

    Currently I'm in the comfort of my apartment sitting on my cozy bed with a candle lit, music playing, and my lap top on my lap. The candle is critical to my happiness...it's a new thing, but when I wake up or sit and do work I light my smelly candles.

    When it is not -35 degrees outside, I enjoy a good walk in the woods instead of my candles. I could walk forever. Being able to experience new places and people (anything from new patches of woods to new countries to talking to "that homeless guy downtown") enriches my life and adds a level of excitement and change that I need to survive and cope. Although I am outgoing, I enjoy keeping to myself. I love to be alone and am quite content not talking to the outside world for a few days (except 1 or 2 people). Sometimes I’d prefer talking to a stranger than to my friends. What can I say, I’m a little weird, but it’s how I roll and it’s what makes me happy. I guess I'm a little subconsiously afraid of committing to things (perhaps why I like to talk to strangers and be alone). Oddly enough, I have many friends and treasure my friendships. I don't even know how this little brain of mine works. I just know I'm happy with the way I live.

  10. Thanks for sharing! I don't think your comments sound weird at all, just human.


About Me

I am a writer, lifelong student, former academic and new blogger. My passion continues to be everyday living. I am interested in what people do, how, when and why they do it, and what it means for their their understanding of the world and hence, their well being.