The ethos around here is that feeling good and doing good can be one and the same. You can live your craziest, happiest, best life and do some good along the way – no compromise or herculean effort. That got us thinking about the tiny ways you can spark more happiness for yourself every single day (aside from downloading the Inspired app, of course), which apparently works as a super potent butterfly effect even in small doses. The common denominator among happier people? A positive environment. Yes, many of us still work in cubicles and sleep in bedrooms whose only window faces a brick wall, but it turns out we can still get in on this. According to psychologists, showing a little interior love to your office or living space can make a measurable difference in your daily mood, and it doesn’t have to be expensive or labor-intensive. Creating your happy place just has to be strategic.
As you probably already know, a huge element of room decor that impacts your mood is color. Green promotes calm, red tends to cause more stress, etc. We’re not about to go paint our whole office yellow to feel more energetic though. Here are some quick and easy interior design hacks, to give you maximum results without any remodeling involved.
One of the simplest ways to get the most out of your feel-good color (read up on which best suits your needs here) is to incorporate decor in your direct line of sight. So if your desk at work needs sprucing up, a pink throw blanket over the back of your office chair isn’t going to give you much of a mood boost. Instead, a couple mini Himalayan salt lamps under or around your desktop will pack a much bigger punch in the color psychology department. Focus on maximizing the good energy of the visual area you spend the most time facing, and you’ll also maximize the subliminal creativity boost of those decorative amethyst geodes in your workspace.
If color psychology sounds a little hokey to you, it’s a developing field, but studies do indicate it can have a powerful effect – a more consistently studied design element with a big impact on mood is lighting. We know lack of access to natural light leads to major psychological changes like Seasonal Affective Disorder (and apparently, retail sales volume), but did you know incorporating it into your living space can be as simple as a well-placed lamp? It’s all about tricking your brain and according to experts, 30 minutes in front of a 10,000 lux lamp can make a huge difference in your mood.
But if therapy-grade lamps are a little too conspicuous, you can get creative with softer sources of light as well – like candles (either real or fake, depending on the confines of your space). A recommendation straight from Danish “Hygge” expert Meik Wiking is to aim for a light temperature around 1,800 k, which mimics the temperature of wood fires and sunsets for maximum cozy feelings. In fact, the common denominator among almost all mood-boosting decor is the mimicking of nature: sunlight or sunset-grade lighting and colorful, natural decor.
Unsurprisingly, this logic finds some of it roots in the age-old practice of Feng Shui, which not only focuses on the flow of physical space but on the richness and variety of textures. According to Psychology Tomorrow Magazine, Feng Shui principles dictate that “shapes and textures should represent natural elements” and should generally be derived from “earth, water, wood, metal, and fire.” Textures are equally as easy to incorporate, but they’re also a whole lot of fun to play with. With plants, candles, stones, lamps, textiles, and metals, you can custom-tailor your living or work space to your ideal personal oasis.
We need to put extra textural emphasis on plants here because study after study has shown plants create an undeniable boost in mood, which makes a lot of sense. Plants open up space in a way few other decor items can, and they evoke calm, refreshment, and a connection with the outdoors. In scientific terms, exposure to plants actually stimulates “both the senses and the mind, improving mental cognition and performance” – which is something you and your boss can be happy about. Again, incorporating plants can be as simple and easy as your space (and your black thumb) allow. Among the hardest-to-kill plants are philodendrons, snake plants, succulents, and spider plants, which all add a bright pop of green to your visual living space.
So in conclusion, color, flow, light, and texture in your living and working space will make you a much better person. Well… they’re at least proven to make you calmer, more creative, more productive, and boost your sociability, so the sum of all parts, right? And the benefits don’t stop at you alone. Hacking your space in small, happiness-boosting ways does affect your outward behavior, and according to a Psychology Today study review, “when people who are close to us, both in terms of social ties (friends or relatives) and physical proximity become happier, we do too.” In fact, the power of happiness in relation to proximity is so strong that “when a person who lives within a mile of a good friend becomes happier, the probability that this person’s good friend will also become happier increases 15%.” This effect has shown to reach a third-degree of separation, meaning it affects people beyond your direct contact. So when you’re making little changes towards greater happiness, that feeling branches out in directions you likely haven’t imagined. A good mood is contagious, and it truly can be as easy as a little redecorating.