How To Develop Resilience and Calm

Olga Trusova
3 min readMar 8, 2023

We all crave a little space for ourselves, personal space in which to express ourselves and do our best work. Yet our lives, and the spaces we occupy, are filled with hundreds of objects that represent decisions that were never about supporting or inspiring our spirit.

You probably have heard of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, often portrayed as a pyramid with the most basic needs for food and shelter at the bottom and self-actualization needs at the top, but do you know he added aesthetics — the appreciation of your surroundings — to the list? Living in a space you find pleasing both physically and emotionally is more than a luxury; it can define who you are and change you for the better.

Publisher: Chronicle Books

The desire to create an oasis at home has become more apparent as many people shift to working from home. As we spend increasing amounts of time at home, we put additional requirements and strain on the household. Our spaces have become multifunctional — a family room might have to function as an office, a gathering area, a playroom, and so on. The need for a personal space has also increased; we seek to decompress and reset in the sanctuary of our home. But how do you intentionally carve out a little space for yourself?

After graduate school at Stanford University, I became a design consultant for Fortune 500 companies and built centers for innovation and creativity around the world. I developed strategies for bringing human-centered design into the workplace, explored the future of work and mobility, and created pathways for employees to be more creative. The insights and learnings I’m sharing with you here are based on my design consulting work, and what I learned at the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford ( ).

I’ve studied how different environments, cultures, norms, and rituals foster deliberation and calm. My conclusion is that there is no single aesthetic, but there are underlying principles that can empower anyone to create spaces that bring out the best in themselves and others.

In my new book, Calm Living, I will introduce you to the foundational principles of designing a space — whether it’s a small apartment, an office, or a large house — that gives you peace and clarity (even amid chaos), enables your mind to flow, and gives you room to learn and grow effortlessly. It isn’t about sparse white rooms where everything is in its place; it is about filling your space with intention. Calm is not static.

Calm Living: Simple Design Transformations to Fill Your Spaces With Tranquility

The concepts in this book are rooted in research but easy to apply in your own space, and you don’t need formal training in design to use them. This book will show how simple changes can make any room — and its inhabitants — more inspired. It is a way to care for yourself by addressing an overlooked yet powerful aspect of our lives: our space. More and more people are beginning to understand that space goes hand in hand with how we feel.

One thing I’ve learned is that the aesthetics of calm do not fit into one mold. An important part of this book is identifying ways that physical spaces and objects can be part of your unique, active tool sets. You’ll experiment with physical spaces and ephemeral details, such as day-to-day routines, as a way to practice taking control of the world around you and designing meaningful experiences for yourself and others.

Calm Living is now available for purchase, thanks to Chronicle Books.

Hope you enjoy the book!