You become a product of your environment


I met up with Paul and Tony last night for a couple of drinks.  I’ve known Paul for a couple of years now and first met him through the Granite State Triathlon Club. Since then we’ve trained for several races together including the Manchester Marathon, Patriot Half Ironman and currently we are both training for Ironman Lake Placid.

We’ve had some long training sessions including some mutli-hour bike rides and runs.  I can’t even count the number of topics you cover when on a three hour run. So, inevitably when we get together outside of training or exchange e-mails the topic of triathlon will come up, whether it is a tough workout, a cool new bike or upcoming race expectations. 
My training has been way off for the past week due to an injury (rib injury that will take 4 weeks to recover from!) and I’ve gotten frustrated from the lack of activity I’m relegated to. I’ve felt my motivation slowly going away.  However I think I’ve become conditioned to think about triathlon when I interact with Paul. After hanging out with Paul and Tony last night (and yes we talked triathlon) I woke up this morning with a much more optimistic outlook on my injury and upcoming training in the next couple of months.
Paul is part of my triathlon environment which led to the title of this post – you become a product of your environment.  I believe this statement is true no matter how you look at it.  
It may seem that there are exceptions to this.  There are story’s like Oprah’s, Art Berg’s and people you meet everyday. You have probably met people yourself who after hearing their story think, “how does this person have such an optimistic outlook on life?” These people “beat the odds” of a tough environment only to become successful, in whatever way you want to define success.  They are incredible examples of being pro-active in creating positive definitions about events in their life, they find the positive in a situation, use it to their advantage and embody one of my favorite phrases – ‘no event has any inherent meaning, only the meaning we give it’
However, even those people we consider exceptions to the rule: “you become a product of your environment” changed their environment in one way or another.  It may have been their physical environment; maybe they chose to find a new cirlce of friends, move to a different place or find a different job.  However in all cases it was their mental environment they changed first which likely led to a change in their physical environment.
Looking outside these seemingly extreme examples (I think most people have their own version of a challenging environment) I believe everyone can use this belief to their advantage.
What would you change about your life if you believed that you were at least in some part a product of your environment? If you had the choice, why wouldn’t you create the best environment possible to reach whatever goals and dreams you had? If you can’t immediately change your physical environment, there is no one stopping you from changing your mental environment.
What are you going to do to or what do you now do to change your environment, mental or physical?
Over the next several weeks and months I’ll be getting into more details about my fundraising efforts for the Bretton Woods Adaptive ski program.  In those posts I hope you’ll find examples of people who have changed their mental environment, no matter how difficult their situation seemed to be.

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