We exist in a layered reality, where physical meets mental meets digital. Designing an environment means considering the interaction between all three. Disciplines like interior design, psychology, and computer programming no longer fit neatly in their own categories–in life design we draw from all disciplines as needed.
The digital now permeates our physical and mental worlds. It’s hard to imagine an environment without considering it’s cell reception or wifi hotspots. This lesson focuses on designing the environment you live in from a lifestreamer’s perspective.
A lifestreamer (one who shares her life online because it feels good) has a distinct advantage in life design for two reasons. First, she cares about how she feels, so she makes a habit of directing her thoughts, thus creating a more enjoyable life experience for herself. Second, she experiences all the benefits of a deliberate online presence–she follows her passions, voices her intentions, teaches while learning, and rapidly processes and synthesizes information.
Life design is simply consciously creating the reality you want to live in. Lifestreaming is one way to start consciously creating.
How does lifestreaming help me design my physical, mental, and digital environments? Designing your environment as a lifestreaming life designer means you are able to see everything through a digital lens. What does my physical environment look like online? How does my mental environment influence my creative output? What tools can I use to spread my ideas, make money, and experience the most joy while doing so?
Your physical environment is the space your body moves around in. It’s the traditional way to think about environment design. What do you want the landscape to look like? What do you want your home to look like?
Now think of your website. And think of the pictures and videos and text you’ll post to it. The environment you live in will undoubtedly come through in your digital life. Now remember that your website is a version of your higher self – you post things to it that make you feel closer to being the person you know you really are.
That means your physical environment should start resembling the environment of your higher self – otherwise, it will be pretty hard to pretend your website is your higher self, if you post a bunch of photos from your physical environment that don’t make you happy, or that aren’t just the way you know they should be.
Essentially, you should capture the best parts of your physical environment, and share them via your site. This forces you to figure out what you DO like in your physical environment, and ignore the rest. Have a sink full of dirty dishes? Don’t do a photoshoot in the kitchen! Have a corner in your bedroom that is set up exactly as you want it? Make that your new photo studio!
The point is to portray the physical environment you live in exactly as you want it to be. Ignore the stuff that makes you feel less than stellar, and accentuate the beauty that surrounds you!
The same thing goes for outside your home – ignore anything you don’t want to be part of your environment. Don’t document it. Leave it alone to vibrate out of your perception. But that gorgeous sunset? Those sparkly dresses at the thrift store? Lush parks and streams and trees? More of those please!
Make it a point to bring what you love about your physical environment online to your website. Show us what the physical environment of your higher self looks like. Documenting what you love about your physical environment is one simple way to shift your attention from what you don’t want, to what you do want.
I first heard of vision boards when Kelly and I watched The Secret. A vision board is a designated area you use to collect images or words describing the things you want in your life. By placing your vision board in a prominent place in your home (or on your phone or wherever you look frequently), you force yourself to constantly look at the things you desire. When you look at them all the time, you think about them more.
Thinking about the things we want can bring us the feelings we would feel if we already had them. That’s the point of the vision board – to get you feeling like you already have all the things you want. For example: on our vision board we have an image of a Trek bicycle. We put it there after Kelly got her bike stolen. After a few weeks of looking at the image and feeling how good it would feel to have a nice new bicycle, my parents ended up lending her a sweet Trek bike! She didn’t struggle every day, trying to think of how she was going to get this bicycle. She just placed the intention of wanting the bike, felt how good it feels to have the bike, and then allowed the bike to vibrate into her existence.
A vision board is a great way to begin incorporating the things you want into your physical reality. You take advantage of the physicality of an image – you look at it, you think about it, you begin to feel what it would feel like to have it. Then, you get used to looking at the things. Yes, you want them still, but they become background in your environment. You begin to think it would be normal to have these things. And that is the key – once having what you want becomes the next logical step in your life, there it will appear! Meaning, you can’t attract things into your life if you don’t believe you have the means to get them. Having a vision board gets you used to the idea of living your dreams, helping you achieve the emotional conditions you need to attract what you want into your life.
What you see is old news
No matter what is in your physical environment, it’s yesterday’s news. Your physical reality has been determined by the thoughts you thought long ago. To change what you see in your physical environment, you have to start thinking different thoughts. Your physical reality has been put into place by thoughts you already created. Those thoughts you thought last week, last month, last year – now they are manifested into your physical reality. Think about your current situation. Is there anything in your physical environment that you don’t understand how it got there? For example: my computer monitor is sitting sad and broken on my desk. I remember thinking about a year ago “this monitor sure is getting old. I bet I’ll have to replace it soon.” The universe then says, “your wish is my command.” On the other hand, I remember thinking “wouldn’t it be nice to live in a relaxing apartment complex with a sweet pool that doesn’t require the A/C to be run at all hours of the day?” And the universe responded with “your wish is my command.” I love my apartment, and I know that my thoughts are what created it in my physical reality.
Don’t give too much weight to what is physically around you. It can be hard at first, to ignore what you can see and hear and taste and touch and smell, but it’s what you have to do to begin manifesting what you DO want to see and hear and taste and touch and smell. We are vibrational beings, and our thoughts are the source of our physical reality. Everything is perfect and in its place, and you’re already doing everything right. Just keep thinking those thoughts, and your physical reality will change before your eyes.
Your mental environment is the way you think–your default thought patterns. Picture having a guest in your mind–how would you describe the space? Cluttered? Spacious? Clean? Comforting? Confusing? Dazzling? Using lifestreaming to design this part of your environment is covered extensively in Lesson 3: Designing Thoughts and Emotions and in Lesson 4: Designing Daily Life. Your mental environment creates everything in your physical and digital environment.
In The View from the Top: Thoughts on Cleaning Up Your Thoughts, Kelly discusses how similar maintaining your mental environment is to your physical environment. If you desire your physical space to be clean, think of how it feels to have a clean mental space.
What are the mental conditions of your higher self like? What does the ideal you think about all day? Documenting your positive thinking through gratitude posts, daily intentions, or rampages of appreciation immediately gives you access to the thoughts of your higher self.
By default, many of us spend a lot of time online. Therefore, designing our online experiences is a huge part of life design. What’s more–having a website is integral to life design, making digital environment design even more important. There are three parts to digital environment design: consumption, creation and maintenance.
Remember, how you feel should be driving your design. So let’s talk about designing your experiences of consuming other people’s ideas via the Internet. It is exactly the same as designing your physical experiences of consuming other people’s ideas. If talking to someone face to face feels bad, you avoid further interactions with that person. If you’re reading a physical book that sucks, you put it down and pick up a different one.
How you consume digital interactions with other people should be the same. Think about where you spend your time online. Do you spend a lot of time reading Facebook, Twitter, or RSS feeds? How do they make you feel? Would spending less time reading your Twitter stream make you feel better? Would blocking annoying updates on Facebook make you feel better? Would unsubscribing from blogs you feel “obligated” to read (like news sites) make you feel better?
How you feel is the most important part of life design. The point of designing your life is to maximize the joy you feel while experiencing life. Recently, I unsubscribed from most of the blogs I used to read that made me annoyed or depressed. Seems logical right? But until you ask yourself how you feel when you are consuming online content, it can be easy to overlook.
I also stopped reading Twitter and Facebook all day. When you start thinking about how everyone is going to react to your updates (how many comments did I get on that status? Why didn’t anyone @ reply me about that tweet?), you start muddling your own vibration. You start thinking about what other people want to hear instead of what you want to say.
Now I keep my Twitter follow list at a manageable number and try to only follow people that really inspire me. Maybe this seems obvious, but it can be all too easy to let your guard down and invite negativity from others into your own reality. I keep my Facebook interactions to a minimum and try to only go on when replying to comments.
Why create digitally at all? Why put stuff online? Why bother? Why not just make a painting or write a book or mold a sculpture? Because the Internet allows our ideas to proliferate. And when our ideas proliferate, they begin to influence our environment. Take for example, the positivity movement. If you spend all your time making positive-thinking content, talking about the benefits of thinking positively, and generally being a happy person online, your online environment will begin to reflect that. You’ll subscribe to blogs that make you feel good. People will send you emails that make you feel good. You’ll come across information that makes you feel good, that you feel like you’ve been looking for forever.
We create online to give our ideas the chance to spread. We first create a mental environment that births our ideas, which have the potential to change our physical reality. We put these ideas online to then influence or manipulate our digital environment. Manipulating our mental and digital environments leads to changes in our physical environment.
You can skip the whole digital creation part if you want – you don’t need your thoughts to proliferate online to influence your own physical reality. But then you better avoid being online altogether, because if you aren’t intentional about guiding your digital reality, someone else will guide it for you. What do you want the experience of being online to be like? If you don’t think about it, you can’t control it. So when you think about your digital environment, and develop preferences about it, and begin putting your own ideas online, you begin to sway your environment. When your digital environment begins to change, it affects your physical environment because you are spending more time feeling good.
There are three parts of digital creation. First comes your concept: what are you trying to say? Why are you saying it? How are you going to communicate it? Next comes your visual (or graphic) design. How can you make your message readable? What style will your audience respond to best? What design elements evoke the feelings you want your audience to feel? Last comes the code. How are you going to digitize your message to spread it all over the world? Will you use a website? A filesharing program? An iPhone app? A Facebook ad?
The concept creation stage occurs when you have a new idea that makes you feel good. Your concept should feel like a solution. For example, I had an idea that I wanted to teach life design online. That concept felt great to me. As a recent graduate with an MFA degree in my hands, I knew I wanted to teach but couldn’t figure out just how. Then I had the idea that I could do it easily online and I could start right now.
So I had my solution – I was going to start teaching life design online. I had a message, I had a reason I wanted to teach it, and I knew how I wanted to say it. Then came the visual design part. How was this going to fit in my website? What would the lessons look like? What kinds of images would I use? What would the typography of the posts look like?
For me, the most important part of visual design creation is to just START. In this post, I introduced the School with a hand drawn image. It wasn’t like it was the best visual decision I ever made, but it was a starting point. It was a way to unblock the creative flow. From that point on, my image-making improved with each lesson.
Graphic design is a tool that we can use to communicate visually with each other. And on the Internet, a lot of what we experience is visual. So graphic design is a very important part of communicating online. But don’t let the field of graphic design intimidate you. If you relax and allow inspiration to flow through you, graphic design is easy.
First, if you don’t know how to use specific software (like Photoshop or Dreamweaver), don’t be discouraged. Do you know how to take a photo? Do you know how to pick up a pencil? Use the tools that come naturally to you to begin, then slowly allow yourself to learn more. Graphic design can be very intuitive. How do you feel when you look at an image you made? How do you feel when you look at the typography on your website? If your typography makes you nervous, or is unreadable, or seems confusing, then change something so that you feel better about it. Use your emotions to determine how good something is. There are lots of ways to talk about graphic design formally – in terms of balance, composition, line quality, et cetera, but you don’t need to know any of that to get started. Your emotions will tell you when you’re doing a good job. If what you’re designing makes you feel good, then keep going! If it doesn’t, start over or do something else.
A good designer knows how to find the right tools and materials for any job. It doesn’t matter if she doesn’t know how to use the tools or materials, because she can learn anything she needs to from a Youtube tutorial or Google search.
In a traditional graphic design program, one is expected to learn the industry standard tools on her own and decide when it is appropriate to use them. Class time is for exploring concepts and ideas and for receiving feedback, not learning how to use the pen tool in Photoshop. In this life design program, I don’t teach you how to code your website. There are hundreds of sites you can go to for that. A good life designer knows when she needs to learn a new skill or hire someone else to do it.
Digital Environment Maintenance
Once you start creating online, you might want to consider how you will maintain your creations. Specifically, if you expect to make a living off of your website, then you need to learn how to back it up. If you have a Bluehost account, site backups are SUPER easy. You just log in to your Control Panel, scroll down until you find “Backups” and follow the instructions from there. As long as you download a full backup file of your site frequently, you should have no problems keeping your site running if you ever experience problems.
Start making your digital environment more the way you want it. “Be the change you want to see in the world!” One way to spread your ideas is by advertising. This week’s assignment is to create an advertising campaign for yourself. It could be an ad for your site, for an affiliate program you’re a part of, or an ad for a service you offer. It doesn’t matter what you’re advertising, only that you work on promoting it.
I recently began an advertising campaign on this site by putting a banner ad in the sidebar for Bluehost. When people sign up for webhosting using my Bluehost link, I get a cut – it’s called an affiliate program. Bluehost gets a new customer, and they pay me for giving them the new customer. I wanted to explain that to people so that if they wanted to get a website and wanted a good company to use, they could see why I use Bluehost and then they could chose to support the School of Life Design if they wanted to. The sidebar ad:
This simple advertising campaign is a way to make money promoting a company I already use. What do you think of it? I would love to hear your feedback. These Life Design lessons are all about discussion – I’m learning as I go along just like you are.
So this week: make an ad for yourself! Then put it somewhere! Maybe get someone else to put it on their website! Just start promoting your ideas so you can begin manipulating the environment around you. The more you project what you want into the world, the more it will come back to you in your physical reality. Have fun! You’re already doing everything right!
To go deeper into this lesson, don’t forget to listen to the discussion MP3. This week, Kelly and I find some particularly relevant comparisons between life design and graphic design. If the stages of a graphic design project are concept, visual design, and code, then the stages of a life design project are concept (your thoughts), visualization (of what you want), and code (or inspired action, working with the universe).
See you next time!
Lesson 6 is Designing Relationships. We’ll discuss love, sex and family, and how to feel good about the relationships you already have. Joyfully co-creating with other people is one of the greatest pleasures of this life! Lesson 6 will be all about creating those joyful relationships.
Be sure to sign up for the School of Life Design Mailing List to get emails when new lessons go up, and to get exclusive content not available to the public.
Designing life wouldn’t be nearly as fun without you! If you enjoyed this lesson, please consider a donation to keep the School of Life Design thriving.
Thank you for co-creating with me!