Change your environment, change your thoughts

There’s just one way to radically change your behavior: radically change your environment.—Dr. B.J. Fogg, Director of the Stanford Behavior Design Lab

I just returned from four weeks in Western North Carolina. It wasn’t so much a vacation but really an opportunity to “test drive” what it would be like to live there for half the year once our son graduates from high school. I rented a sweet cottage right by the Brevard Music Center, three blocks from downtown, so I could explore the area by foot (see pictures from my trip on Quiet).

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My son was profoundly impacted by his five-week service trip to Tanzania, particularly his time with the Maasai tribe. He was part of a service program coordinated by The Experiment in International Living.

During my time there I turned off my phone and car navigation system and relied on sheer brain power to get around. I relished the experience of having to discover: where to find the best gluten-free baguettes, the easiest way to get to my friend’s house in the next town over and favorite local spots for yoga and Thai food. Stepping out of my familiar routes and routines stretched me … and I loved it! Not only does changing our environment change our thoughts, it helps us create new neural pathways and feel more alive (read my post Why You Should Do it Different). Not only was I more creative and innovative in July, every day I would wake up with a slew of new ideas.

While I was away, my husband (who was on a men’s retreat in CO) and teen son (who was in Tanzania on a service trip), were also doing their part to change-up how they see the world on a macro and micro level. It’s been exciting and invigorating to see how differently we are all interacting with one another since our recent adventures.

Two days before my 16 year-old got back from his trip to Africa, my husband and I ambitiously decided to keep the “change your environment, change your thoughts” theme alive by renovating, re-painting and swapping two of our upstairs rooms. One of the spaces was our teen’s room; a bold move, but we gave him the head’s up and luckily he likes it! Nothing like coming home to a new bedroom after a life-changing experience to help you embrace a fresh mindset. Read Why You Environment is the Biggest Factor in Changing Your Life from Inc.

This week, explore how you might change your environment, whether it be in a small way (like moving the furniture around in your office or bedroom) or in a big way (such as launching a job search, trying out co-working or seeking out a new office space for your business). Your brain and your loved ones will thank you for it.

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Join me in the cool, crisp MA Berkshire mountains Sept. 21-23 for New Way of Being: Women’s Self-Renewal Retreat at Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health. Packages start at just $500.


  • Retreats are ideal if you’re in transition, exploring, “What’s next?” and want to create new ways of being. Join soulful, like-minded women in an empowering and deeply supportive environment this fall for two restorative women’s self-renewal retreats. I’ll be in MA Sept. 21-23 (lodging is almost sold out!) and in CA Oct. 26-28; learn more.
  • Craving authentic community and want to find (or create) your tribe? Learn more about our global sisterhood of RTA-Certified Facilitators  and empower/support women in your community! More here on how to become a RTA-Certified Facilitator and join our inner circle ($100 off through 8/31; includes private coaching with me).
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Subscribe here to Live Inside Out, a weekly blog written by life balance coach/author/speaker Renée Peterson Trudeau. Passionate about helping men and women experience balance through the art/science of self-care, her work has appeared in The New York Times, Good Housekeeping, US News & World Report, Spirituality & Health and more. Thousands of women in ten countries are becoming RTA-Certified Facilitators and leading/joining self-renewal groups based on her award-winning self-care curriculum.  She is the author of three books on life balance and mindfulness including the award-winning The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and 16-year-old son. More on her background here.