Change your Environment, Change your Life

by Dec 17, 2021

I read a study a few years ago about the Heroin addiction rate of soldiers in the Vietnam war, and their spontaneous remission rate of 95 % upon their return to America.

When they permanently left the environment they associated with Heroin, all of the cues, the people, the stresses, the places, the habitual thought patterns associated with all of those that made up addiction, it became the norm for these men to never even touch the world’s most addictive drug, one with a typical recovery rate of a mere 9%, ever again.

We are creatures of habit, and habits are fundamentally associations – it’s a canned response our body has to environmental cues. Trying to change those ingrained habitual pathways in your current environment can be really difficult, as anyone who’s tried to lose weight, or stop smoking, or quit pornography, alcohol, or any other addictive drug can likely tell you.

I’ve fought the uphill battle against habits many times, and found some success, but the greatest tool I have ever found for habit change is changing environment.

This is part of the reason why rehab works; if you remove yourself from all the typical patterns you associate with an activity, you won’t have the same degree of urges to act the way you always have, your brain is trying to figure out how to act in a new environment, and that gives you a huge opportunity – you get to design your reactions to the cues in your new environment to align with the habits you want to build.

In this new age of remote work, it isn’t unreasonable for some of us to go rent a condo and live for two weeks in a new place.

If, from the minute you walk in the door, you are deliberate about what habits you build in this new space, it will be easy to set a new pattern that aligns with your goals and consciously choose your reaction to the new cues of your space.

During this time, plan how you’re going to implement these new habits back into your space, and for the next two weeks be hyper-vigilant and deliberate about the execution of that plan, and with some work, those newly built habits from that new space can be brought home by creating new conscious connections.

This can be a challenging time where you build new pathways in your old environment to match your desired patterns, but the advantage is that you have literally lived your desired patterns for two weeks already.

It’s hard to fight the old patterns while bringing in the new ones, but you have already lived the new patterns for a time – they have a fighting chance as habits in their own right, so it’s much easier to integrate them than it is to start from zero.

I move so often these days that it feels almost like a gift that I get so many opportunities to make new associations for habit and lifestyle change regularly.

Some habits however, can be too insidious to be displaced during a return to your original space, and in some cases you may just want to literally move and create habits in a new permanent environment.

Whatever your goal is, a process can be designed to make it a reality. What gives me the most joy is helping people design systems and processes to implement change into their lives – if there’s a change you want to make, hit me up – I’d love to help you make it a reality.

It gives me joy to help people manifest changes in their lives – through modifying habits, changing environments, or planning the path toward a goal.

If there’s a change you want to make, let me know, I’d enjoy helping you make a plan.

I’ve spent the last 4 years completely rewiring the way I think, behave, and perform to align with my ideals. It’s a endless, but hugely rewarding process.


Scott Ortlip
IG @thescortlip



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