The environment shapes people’s actions.
— B.F. Skinner (Image Licensed by Penn Wealth Pub.)
This is overwhelmingly true, but it is not a given. We control our actions, yet we decide—most of the time—to abdicate this control to the external environment. On a macro scale, imagine being a twenty-something year old living in Germany in the 1930s. Or a North Korean living in present-day Pyongyang. We would have been, or would be, strongly enticed to act a certain way based on the environment in which we live.
In a micro-scale example, we each go through our respective days pushed and pulled by what is happening around us. Everything from the news which inundates us as soon as we glance at our phones or our screens, to the rude drivers flying by us on the highway. It is natural for our environment to shape our thoughts and, subsequently, our actions, but it doesn’t need to be that way. If we decide how we are going to enter the day, and vow to keep our internal compass pointing in the direction of our objectives, we take back control of our actions—and our lives—despite the chaos which surrounds us.