Shape The Environments That Shape You.

The book of Deuteronomy is a sort of re-imagined Law for the Israelites as they prepared to enter the Promised Land. Deuteronomy could literally be translated "the second law." (Duo + Torah) What should life look like as they built their homes, became neighbors, settled disputes, etc? God had some thoughts. Deuteronomy 6 is known as the Shema, which simply means- LISTEN UP.

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.  You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates."

(Deuteronomy 6:4-9, emphasis mine.)

God wanted this command, to love God with everything we have, to be a driving force in their lives. He wanted them to recite it and write it EVERYWHERE. When you wake up, remind yourselves. When you eat meals, remind yourselves. When you are walking down the street, remind yourselves. Put it on your doorposts, gates, and city gates so you see it when you leave and return. Write it on your hands and heads. Keep this idea constantly in front of you.

In other words, shape your environment so that it is constantly reinforcing this value. So much so that it is impossible to forget. Some Jews today take this practice literally and wear teffilin to remind themselves of the Shema word.


Even if you aren't religious, I think there is a strong lesson to be learned here.

We shape our environments and then our environments shape us.

The way that our homes and offices and lives are arranged constantly shape our rhythms and behaviors which in turn shape our character.

If a complete stranger were to walk into your house and take a look around, what would they say that you value? For most of us in American homes, the layout of our living rooms would communicate that we value being entertained by our televisions.

My wife is an avid reader, and one thing that helps her be successful is to constantly have the next few books that she wants to read already in the house. The less resistance you can create between you and your goals, the easier they will be to reach.

It is impossible to eat junk food if it is never in your house. You'll find yourself watching television less if you unplug it and put it in your closet until you really want to watch it. You'll find yourself playing a guitar more if you put it in the middle of your living room as a constant reminder of your goal. Your phone will interrupt your sleep less if you charge it in another room. You'll go to the gym in the mornings more if you set out your clothes and gear the night before. You'll use social media less if you delete the apps off of your phone. The list goes on.

What are you wanting to accomplish? What can you change about your space to make those accomplishments easier? Shape your environments so that they can help shape you into the person you want to become.