The Houston Effect

James Houston is a Australian photographer who grew up in Bourke, in country New South Wales, and is based in New York. The 46-year-old is inspired and sharing his vision of lifestyle via his new project The Houston Effect, a site to inspire others towards a more full-filling life; he explains the concept to Billabout.

Over the last 20 years I’ve had so many experiences. I moved to New York, worked through recessions, cracked into a career that’s extremely competitive and I made it all off my own bat. I have a good understanding of how you can really kick some goals in your life, break through to where you want to be and now I want to share that with people, because it’s not easy.

I built a house in upstate New York called Ananda. When people visit they’re always joking that I create this whole real effect. Like it’s a 360°, five senses experience and it became sort of a joke ‘The Houston effect’. A big part of my life’s inspiration is giving people advice and inspiring change in other’s lives.

The Houston Effect is the first time I’ve put my name to something. The other projects I’ve worked on have been to benefit HIV AIDS charities or adolescent sexual health awareness but now I’m trying to build a brand that is relevant to younger people. Essentially I’m a real person with a job and I’m sharing what I’ve learnt in the real world. I’m not out here trying to sell you a spiel and make money from it, I’m saying “I’m living this pretty cool life and this is how I did it.”

One of the tough things about being Australian is that you’re brought up with tall-poppy syndrome. You don’t want to pull your head out of the crowd and say, ‘Hey, check me out, I’m doing some pretty cool stuff’ because you feel like a bit of a wanker. You’ve got to get over that especially in America where everybody’s out tooting their own horn.

Everybody has a passion. And anybody who is doing a job that they hate is honestly missing out, because I think that if you can connect with your passion, you will live a full life and you can make money from something you love to do. It’s really about connecting people to the belief that you can still live the life of your dreams.

A lot of people are a bit lost and don’t know what they really want in life. I’m here to offer insight into how you can set yourself a goal and visualize the result, and to help you let go of some of the bullshit that’s holding you back.

I’m posting three times a week at the moment. Two posts will be about ‘headspace’ and one post about ‘homespace’. I believe that the two work hand in hand to give you the life of your dreams. If you think about your ‘headspace’ as the interior of yourself, what does it look like? Is it a cluttered space? Is it well lit? Is it somewhere that you want to hang out and invite your friends? Is it inspiring? Similarly, ‘homespace’, the area that’s around you. What does it look like? Does it inspire you? You can paint your apartment, change the furniture around, create more of an open space with beautiful light with various objects that really connect you to experiences and people and you feel good being there.

If you ask people who are happy why they are happy, they say ‘I choose to be happy’. You choose to be a miserable or you choose to be a happy person who’s motivated and empowered. You’ve been given a body on this planet, what are you going to do?

How you wake up and how you end your day is important. What are you saying to yourself when you first wake up? What are you saying to yourself when you go to bed? If you lie in bed for five minutes and close your eyes and focus on what you’re really grateful for in your life, that will change everything. Also, affirmations about what you’re telling yourself can become a reality. If you’re telling yourself, ‘I’m a loving person and abundance just comes to me in my life’, that stuff is going to happen.

My friend, Jamie Durie, was in a mid-Manpower crisis and wanted to do his own calendar. I told him ‘You need a new job’ and I saw that he had an interest in landscaping and design because of the work that he had done in his own backyard. I suggested he do an exterior design landscaping course and he took my advice; within a few years he was on television.

We’ve got to think about the future more. What does your life look like in ten or 20 years time? If you make a change today in five years time, your life can be completely different. You’ve got to work towards a goal. What does your amazing scenario look like? Put that on a wall with images and words, and connect with that. It’s a simple exercise but it can really start to attract that reality into your life, because most people don’t know what they want.

As told to Pete Maiden.

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