It seems that when we feel threatened, we tend to push people away instead of pulling them close. We often put up defenses instead of reaching out to connect. It’s natural to respond this way. Closing our eyes when we are about to be hit protects our eyes from getting hurt. But it also prevents us from seeing clearly. It is hard to avoid conversations about the Orlando shooting and the incredibly divisive presidential elections. I made the mistake of stumbling onto some Facebook conversations and reading some articles that were so blindly reactionary it just made me sad. The shooting is tragic, but then parts of our reaction to it has been tragic as well.
I think one of the biggest mistakes we can make when we feel threatened is to react without truly understanding.
Being a contractor, I wonder how our homes might help us or hurt us in this process. That may seem like a strange question to ask right now, but that is the lens I see the world through.
I know a couple of things to be true:
- 1. We humans are creatures that thrive in nurturing connections with others.
- 2. The spaces we live in help to shape us into more connected, or sadly, less connected creatures.
So, you may ask (if you haven’t skipped this column for another juicy article about what’s wrong with Donald Trump or what’s wrong with immigration or what’s wrong with…) how could my home possibly help me to be a person who can feel less threatened and to connect better with others?
There are actually dozens of ways our homes make us better or worse human beings. I meet with clients a lot who are wanting to change their homes, and it is common for them to want it to be more open, or more modern, or have more light or just be bigger. And there is nothing wrong with those things. They are great things. But I rarely hear people say, “I want my house to help me connect with my neighbors,” or “I want to have a space where guests feel safe and welcome,” or even “I want my house to help our family love each other better.”
These are the deep down core desires of most of us, but they aren’t the things we talk about wanting, and often, they aren’t the desires we end up fulfilling.
What if they were? What if we designed our homes to help us be more intimately and openly connected with others? What would that look like?
There aren’t 5 easy steps, but there are some common elements.
- It would have a family room that is the right size for a good conversation. Too big and it’s hard to talk easily, too small and you don’t feel comfortable.
- It would have a dining room (or eating place) that has a lower ceiling and feel somewhat cozy so that people felt safe and intimate (think of what the restaurant looked like where you had a wonderful conversation with your spouse–probably not huge and open)
- It would have space outside that also encourages connection. Front porches that invite neighbors up and some comfortable space in the back yard that encourage people to relax.
- The rooms would all have good connection from the indoors to the outdoors.
- This actually helps us feel more at peace.
So, I know this won’t magically bring about world peace. That feels so far away sometimes. But it may help bring peace in our own little world.
By Lance McCarthy