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Dr Mani Pavuluri Blog

Let’s be Kind

Ambience at Home: Fun Begins with Action

# Ambience # home # classical conditioning # operant conditioning

# behavioral psychology # fun # life

We don’t know how the heaven looks like yet, right? So all we have control on is what we can create at our homes and our life I suppose, to be “heaven- like.” Often I wonder if we can upgrade the feeling states of all the folk who feel sad or anxious to return home after a good time after a fun afternoon out or a vacation. I know the sorts who love coming back to the nest. I am not talking about those right now. Home sometimes reminds some folk of the troubles, and a return back to the difficult space, even if there is no current immediate crisis. It is akin to classic conditioning. We all heard of Pavlovian or classical conditioning where a biologically potent stimulus (e.g. food) is paired with a previously neutral stimulus (e.g. a bell). So every time you hear a bell, you salivate thinking of food. Similarly, say a bed where you rest (neutral stimulus=bed) can be linked to a recent time of sulking and relentlessly ruminating (feeling state of depression) laying in bed. An aftertaste of dysphoria lingers overtime as you go near the bed after such a state. That dysphoria may spread to being associated with home itself.

I am not denying the home dynamics or the reality of daily-drag on top of just not appreciating home, beyond the classic conditioning. That is when, classic conditioning turns into operant conditioning if the environment at home shapes your feelings even further. This is when consequences of family’s reactions to your depression or sadness and lying in bed may signal an angry parent or a critical spouse. This type of association of consequences shaping your avoidance behavior of not wanting to come home is essentially operant conditioning in behavioral psychology.

Say you are past the difficult period, and are in a great (or good enough) mood to create joy around you- want to shake up the surroundings, but a bit stuck. You decided to make life fun again. It is entirely possible to do so. If you can understand this conditioning business and how you can work to change the vibes, we can work towards creating that virtual heaven on earth! That fun place at home.

Why not amp up with candles that smell great, or posters that inspire you or art that pleases your eye or furniture or blankets that enhance your comfort? Fresh inexpensive flowers or those from your backyard or even a small plant can bring life into home… Decorate with your favorite things and add value through powerful images and senses that offer happy ambience…

A word on donation. Throw away useless space occupying junk to clear your mind and space. Or give away seldom used stuff to others that can use them. Why not make less fortunate folk have some of your stuff for free? You feel good giving. Why not invite a close friend and treat them or even those folk at home with you, or cook, or get food if you don’t cook, and have fun at your home? Why not invite little children in the neighborhood to treat them with little treats? I often think this breaks isolation and adds value to the community. And fills the home with joy and laughter.

Expand what you can do to yourself and to the others. I think we can begin with ourselves by doing what makes us happy at home. May be just lying in that very bed and reading a fun novel, peacefully! Reclassify the classical conditioning with all the amazing things associated with home. I would let the favorite music pervade the atmosphere now and then. Intentionally creating a positive space at home, and where possible at work space too (minus music at work ofcourse), truly kicks fun into life! Simple tricks for simple joys of life! Why not! This type of rebooting and reinventing fun and keeping it that way adds invaluable ambience to any home, any living space. People want to have a good time, and often, I argue that home is where the heaven is, just as much as going out! It requires action.

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