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ABC's Extreme Makeover: Pauni Family + Making Homes Sustainable

Pauni_home_logan_before Pauni_home_logan_after

Recently I blogged about the Happy New House by Neil Denari, and the concept that home design has a lot do with our personalities--even our psychological well-being.  After reading below, I want to hear what you think, so feel free to drop a quick comment if you have the time. 

So last night I was watching ABC's  Extreme Makeover Home Edition, and I was saddened by the Pauni Family's loss of their father.  They are a Tongan family that came to the US in search of many things, among those, the American Dream and the benefits of economic freedom, religious freedom, educational opportunities, etc.  The father Danny Pauni died of a heart attack, leaving behind a spirited wife and eight children.  They had no insurance policy and were struggling to keep the house, but the house wasn't in much condition to want to keep...some kids didn't have beds, the walls and foundation were molding...needless to say, the home wasn't in any condition to sustain eight children.  Which leads to my thoughts:

I like Extreme Makeover Home Edition.  I think it is noble, uplifting programming.  While not all the houses are built green per se, many of the homes are built with indoor air quality considerations supreme.  That said, the original Pauni home was in terrible condition, but the family was extremely upbeat and happy.  So I started thinking...maybe, people have an attitude that is their default.  They are happy or grumpy or whatever in between by default.  And depending on life's everchanging circumstances, our default level adjusts in varying degrees.  With a run down home, the Pauni Family didn't get too down about it because they are happy people by default, but it sure made for tough times.  When the new, rebuilt home came around, they went crazy with joy.  They were so gracious and warm...very thankful.  And I ended the episode thinking:  "we could all learn to be like the Pauni Family by default."  Happiness by default is sustaining on an emotional keeps you going when things don't go right, but living spaces don't define an emotional level, at least at the very minimum.  Living spaces influence emotions, but it's up to us to determine where that influence starts. 

So let me know what you think about how our living spaces define emotional, psychological, or spiritual sustainability.  I'm interested in reading some of your responses.


Hi! This show is a guilty pleasure for me. Sure, it's commercially-driven, and manipulative... but it just feels so good. :)

Have you read The Architecture of Happiness yet? It's sitting here on my shelf, but I've yet to crack it open.

My gut tells me that visually appealing design, as subjective as that is, can positively impact the mood of just about anyone. You could say that design makes people feel happy. But that is not necessarily sustainable.

On a deeper level, I think many people are generally happier if they feel that their living space is an authentic projection of themselves. If, like me, you are a slightly tree-hugging, spiritually sensitive, fun-loving type... you will probably feel best if your home is fairly sustainable, kept simple, responsibly economical in design, with a little bit of whimsy thrown in. There's a feeling of contentment there that goes deeper than surface feelings of happiness.

Beyond that... I think some people have simply found joy and others have not... but now we are getting more into the realm of the mental "living space" than the physical environment.

My gut tells me that visually appealing design, as subjective as that is, can positively impact the mood of just about anyone. You could say that design makes people feel happy. But that is not necessarily sustainable.

thank you soo much for your comment i just came across it barely and i feel kinda bad for not reading it sooner but me and my family thank you for everything you put in your article about my family. we are happy to know that you enjoyed our show, and we are soo grateful for all of the hard workers that help build the house. Malo Aupito

I observed extreme make over team built the house for this family from tongan in 2006 or thereabouts but I just watched the programme in London just yesternight (1st December,2010). I was moved with emotion as I cried watching every stage of development. It is truly good to be our brother's keeper. Welldone as your beautiful team awaits your reward in heaven

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