Today I want to talk about how our physical environment can impact our behaviour and the behaviour of those we want to hang out with. Specifically, how we can make a comfortable space for people to come together and share some laughter and great conversation.
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One of the things I like to do with my family is to spend time in Whistler, British Columbia. Even though I love skiing and snowboarding, I prefer to visit Whistler in the off-season because I love the forest. Whistler is nestled in the forest. It’s a real opportunity for me to disconnect completely from my stressful work as a divorce lawyer, and reconnect with friends and family.
On one of our Whistler trips a couple of years ago I noticed how much people preferred to hang out in the kitchen or dining area wherever we were staying. It was always a kitchen party. And then I realized why: these spaces were super comfy to hang out in. The chalets were designed with an open-plan kitchen with comfy bench seating around the table. The benches reminded me of what you get at a restaurant when you ask for a booth. It got me thinking about the gatherings we have at home, and how to recreate the experience in my everyday life.
I got my brother-in-law Jacques (I call him Jacquelate) to make us a Whistler-inspired kitchen bench. So now at home in Victoria, BC we have a squishy bench in a U-shape around our kitchen table. It’s been three weeks since we’ve had this bench and it’s completely changed my experience of having friends over. Before they might have gone into the living room or out onto the deck, and now they just slide into the bench and join whatever conversation is already happening. I’m finding that they’re hanging out longer and they seem to be more comfortable when they’re here. My daughter sits at the bench while she’s doing her homework to enjoy the late afternoon sun, and I find that I’m doing the same. A few weekends ago I had some friends over after they had spent a late night out the night before. We were all feeling a bit lazy and ended up having a super relaxing day enjoying homemade soup and hung out, you guessed it, around the kitchen table.
So, by making one small change to our environment, we’ve made it way more comfortable for people to hang out – which, if you’ve been following my podcast you know that my belief (and studies show) is that when we spend time with others, our bodies produce a hormone called Oxytocin which is vital for our happiness and overall well-being.
Take a peek at the video above where I take you on a little tour of the Whistler Bench that Jacquelate built for us.
Thanks so much for reading! I’d love to hear all about the small changes you’ve made to your environment so that you can bring people together for laughter and good conversation.
From my home to yours,