Letters To Seneca – Letter 21

Dear Seneca,

Our environment shapes us. Your environment is made up of many pieces, such as – people you spend time with, objects you purchase, information you consume, etc. The continuous interaction with these elements shapes how we perceive the world. We can use this knowledge to shape an environment that will shape the person we’d like to be. I came to realize this truth many moons ago, but a book all about mimetic theory called “Wanting” reminded me of this.

When I allow this truth to slip out of my mind, my default behavior can lead to an environment that’s not conducive to the direction I’m optimizing for – learning and contentment.

As an example, I’ll provide a few environments I’ve gravitated toward over the years.

  • Focus: A few of my favorite locations irrelevant of where I’m traveling are university libraries, bookstores, and cafes where people are actively working. This atmosphere of people hard at work intellectually has always been a happy place of mine. While living in Saint Louis and London I spent a good portion of my weekends in these locations. For me, these are places where focus and inspiration are derived.
  • State of mind: In a previous letter I touched on the importance of getting a daily dose of philosophy, this routine is one aspect of structuring my environment. A daily routine of consuming ideas about chaotic minds and dealing with the outside world brings me internal balance. It’s a constant reminder that I am not my thoughts and to accept the world as it comes at me.

There are many “core truths” throughout life that conscious humans encounter on their journey. With this “core truth” about our environment shaping our perception of the world, we can now begin to strategically shape our environments in the direction that we’re satisfied with.