I bought some almonds over the weekend. I especially like those Wasabi Soy Sauce almonds from Blue Diamond, so I bought a jar. Not a big deal, just a little snack.
Except that I did something unusual with this jar of almonds. I left them out on my counter—right in front of where I like to write.
And guess what? I can’t stop eating them. Every time I look up from my computer, there they are. So I walk over to grab a few… every couple sentences. I’ve gone months without eating almonds, but now, all of a sudden, I can’t seem to stop.
I see them and I want them—almost intuitively.
This is not a phenomenon unique to me (or almonds).
In fact, there is a lot of research supporting this hypothesis that the visuals in our environment impact our behavior.
The things we see affect our habits.
Here is some of the research:
- What’s on your countertop might predict your weight
- For some, out-of-sight cigarettes really might be out of mind
- Want to Change Your Habits? Change Your Environment
- How YouTube is Addictive — Recommendation Systems & its Impacts
From food and cigarettes to work and social media, the items in our field of vision influence us—every minute of every day.
Of course, in this reality of human nature, there is opportunity.
If we change our visuals, we can change our habits.
Changing our environment is one of the easiest and most significant steps we can take to change our habits.
Want to eat less junk food? Remove it from your pantry and your countertop.
Want to watch less television? Remove your large screen from your living room or bedroom.
Want to play fewer video games? Remove your console.
Want to waste less time on your phone? Remove your time-wasting apps. Or better yet, put your phone away in a drawer when you get home.
Want to shop less? Unsubscribe from email newsletters or throw away junk mail before it enters your home.
Want to be less distracted at work? Remove those physical objects that are the cause of distraction.
Want to spend less money eating out? Take a different route home—away from all the restaurants.
From home and office to the work that we do, the physical items around us have a significant impact on habits. Remove those that do not contribute to your best life.
Does removing items from our field of vision solve all our problems and immediately result in a more disciplined, meaningful life? Of course not.
We still need to replace unhealthy habits with healthy habits. But this can also be accomplished by placing healthy visuals in front of us.
Life change is never easy. But there are some steps we can take to bring it about easier.
Changing our visuals is one of them.
Now, excuse me, while I go grab another almond.
I would love a follow up article with ideas for healthy visuals!. great post.
Aha, just occurred to me why I eat so much toast… toaster on countertop. PUTTING IT AWAY!
Amy Slenker-Smith says
Deleting apps from my phone was so helpful. I removed news apps, shopping apps, and social media from my phone. I can still access the information on my computer but creating friction to these sites has been life-changing. I doubt I’ll ever add social media back to my phone. A weight was lifted. I love all the examples for changing your visual to change your behavior.
i experimented rearranging some furniture and also some outdoor spaces… new vignettes with planters & patio furniture in unexpected ways. HOLY COW what a mood booster it all is everytime i view it and can’t believe i didn’t do it before. rut busting is going to be an ongoing thing round my place…