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 ‘Your external environment determines your internal environment.’ True? I am quite sure that philosophers will disagree with that statement. So let me explain…

An environment is defined as the sum of all the external factors influencing the lives and activities of people, plants and animals. The environment could be external as described previously and is not limited to the physical surroundings we see around us such as the leafless trees, the un-tarred roads, our neighbour’s backyard or our noisy generators. There also exists the internal environment, which has to do with the state of our mind. The external environment ultimately affects the internal environment, which is why our discussion will focus on the external environment.

The external environment influences the individual by the Principle of Induction. Those of us still conversant with physics will recall that induction is the process by which electric or magnetic forces are created in a body by being in proximityto an electric or magnetic field without physical contact. Applying this definition to us, we quickly realize that the environment is all about influence and that the things that influence us are not necessarily in physical contact with us. Below is a quick summary of what constitutes our external environment and how they affect us.

People: These are perhaps the most important component of the external environment. We call them various names: peers, friends, buddies, classmates, co-workers etc. The saying ‘show me your friend and I’ll tell you who you are’ perfectly illustrates the importance of this component of our external environment. In simple terms, we are a reflection of the people we constantly interact with whether they are our friends or not. This is because they influence us directly or indirectly by their speech, actions and habits, as we shall see in the next point.

Multimedia: In this internet/information age, the multimedia has become closer to us than ever. The multimedia comprising of sight and sound has a powerful influence on our internal environment because the organs they make use of (Eyes and Ears) are probably the most important means by which we acquire information. Therefore, what we see (or watch) and we what we hear (or listen to) largely determines the state of our mind. Of course, the examples in this category include Music, Television and Movies.

Places: Perhaps the reason we have so many small-minded people as well as people with myopic dreams in this world is that many people have not traveled beyond their places of birth. Travelling does not necessarily mean a long-distance travel or a journey into foreign lands. It simply means going to some place new, somewhere that captures your dreams of a near future. There are always places (and there are a lot of them!) better than where you are or have been that will show you that many things are actually possible.

Books: Small yet powerful, books have been around longer than many of our ancestors. By reading books, you can travel to places you have never been and probably will never be; you can rub ideas with great minds you have never met; you can learn about cultures of people that you never knew existed and more importantly, they could be sources of inspiration and novel ideas. The beauty of books is that they are all around us (in the ‘environment’). The sad thing is that only few people read them. Even sadder is that people read inappropriate books so create a bad environment.

Bottom line:
  • Your eyes and ears are the main gateway to your internal environment (mind/soul). The external environment influences your internal environment through any or both of these channels.
  • Your external environment is not out of your control. To a large extent, you determine your environment and your environment in turn determines whom you turn out to be.
  • Make good or bad friends, view (or listen) to enhancing or destructive multimedia, go to wrong places or visit mind-stretching places, read good books or junk books. It’s all in your hands.

Ifeoluwapo Odedere
© 2012

Originally published on Facebook as Milieu on February 25, 2011

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