Hearth, Home & Biochemistry

The place you call home has a direct affect on your quality of life. The reason this is so is simple is because our surroundings dictate how life unfolds.
Text by Francesca Cruz | May 20, 2018 | Lifestyle

I’m sitting on the floor of my hotel room at the Cosmopolitan. It’s 5:43 a.m., Las Vegas time. No, I haven’t been out carousing the streets of Sin City. Although, as is eerily the case every darn time I’m in this town, I was propositioned for an unsavory tryst. On this particular occasion, it happened in the elevator. The offer for a lascivious encounter involved a penthouse and a few other details I can’t even recall…it had to do with far too much shenanigans for this enfant Cubanita by way of Hialeah to even bother with.
This is why I try to keep my adventures to trekking Machu Picchu or air ballooning in Turkey. I guess it’s only par for course if you travel alone to this hamlet that does so well at promoting glitter, raunch and ruckus. I couldn’t exit the elevator quickly enough — although I will impishly admit that I did slide out with a wink and a saunter that howled (like a banshee) “I’ve still got it.”
As I type this, I’m sitting Indian-style, knees pressed up against the cold window that runs floor-to-ceiling. Getting ready to address my daily ritual − writing every morning in my 5-Minute Journal. The sun is breaking free, like a baby stallion from the womb of the horizon. I count my blessings. I’ve seen, in the last month, the most astounding sunrises and sunsets. I was inclined to think I had a deeper love of dusk, but nope. I now know I’m equally enamored, like two lovers you can’t decide between, of the sun’s rise and fall.
The memories are overwhelming — floating in the Jordan side of the Dead Sea while observing twilight in Israel; seeing the sun come up in Hong Kong; seeing the sunset in Istanbul while enjoying Turkish coffee; taking in the most beautiful setting sun over the prairie land of Wyoming after venturing to Mount Rushmore in South Dakota. I have, as Julio Iglesias once crooned, loved them all. It’s been a year of wanderlusting and wonderment for me and I just can’t get enough.
With still so many places to venture to and experience, home is still my favorite place — the idea of returning is still the most soothing of balsams. In my last article, I discussed how home is a place that isn’t of brick and mortar, it’s not tangible, we carry it with us, and the second we become one with home, we have an awakening — it’s empowering. There’s no space for homesickness, for alas home is inside.
But on this occasion, let’s talk about the address, the location…the tangible place where we find our shelter. Our surroundings, as is this sunrise in Vegas, affects us. The beauty of it, of this dimly lit and luxurious suite, of having slept soundly, of the peace and quiet in the room with the glorious backdrop before me, has the feel-good hormones in my brain spiked. I’m happy, excited, almost in love with the moment. I’ve fallen under an enchanted spell. Neuroscientist Candice Pert better explains: “What you are thinking at any moment, which is directly correlated to how an environment is influencing you, is changing your biochemistry,” she says.

“With still so many places to venture to and experience, home is still my favorite place — the idea of returning is still the most soothing of balsams.”

The home or apartment that you live in, the area that your home is located in and its appearance, the neighbors that you have, the people you interact with, the home décor you select for your abode — all of that has a direct effect on your senses, which then influences your thoughts, followed by your biochemistry, causing a chain reaction with your mood and emotional state. Yes, it’s like a brilliant domino effect of anatomy.
As science author Susan Reynolds shares, your thoughts form your character, how you operate in the world. You are what you think you are, and all of your actions proceed from that thought. But the environment in which you find yourself directly affects you. Your inner thoughts will always be a reflection of your outer stimuli and circumstances.
I’m sure you’ve heard the term winter blues, it’s an actual disorder called Seasonal Affective Disorder or, yup, you guessed it: SAD. Dr. Alfred Lewy, MD, and a SAD researcher at the Oregon Health & Science University, says: “It’s not only a matter of getting light, having a peaceful and pleasant surrounding, but also getting the most important light of the day, the one that sets our equilibrium and circadian clock in order: morning light.”
If all of this data and research is taken into account, then the space where you live — the neighborhood you call home, the amount of light that you allow into your home has a significant, even critical, influence on your state of mind, your physical body, your emotional wellbeing. Would you find more balance in a smaller brightly lit apartment, decorated in a way that promotes harmony, in a safe, as well as, visually pleasing neighborhood? Or would you prefer a dark somber Addam’s Family-esque mega mansion in the hood. That’s not to say those are the only two options you have, but those two specific options are examples of how your biochemistry could be altered, solely based on your environment. This creates a chain reaction in your life that spills over into every aspect of it.
Home sweet home is not only a place for shelter; it’s our proverbial womb. It’s a place meant to protect us, and just as the sun is doing now, it’s supposed to aid in catapulting us like a stallion from the horizon into the stratosphere of our full potential.