Every Saturday on WWBFacebook I do a “Find Your Spot’ post to hopefully inspire you to do just that. Sometimes I am sharing exotic photos of beautiful islands and palm trees, and other weeks I am sharing a cozy chair in front of a fireplace. The point of the post is to encourage you to ‘find a spot’ where you can relax, breathe and take quiet time for yourself. Sometimes you can find your spot in your mind. I often close my eyes and imagine this slow cruise I took through the Vancouver Islands, passing lush green islands inhabited with sea lions and colorful birds. It was a beautiful sunny 75 degree day, with crystal blue skies and the water was literally gleaming. Total bliss…
What I remember most about that cruise is how my mind just shut down. I did not have a thought on my mind. I just stopped thinking and was completely immersed in the spectacular nature that was all around me. It’s no wonder that I still see the Vancouver Islands like a moving slide-show in my mind. Of course I have many beautiful memories of other trips taken but for some reason that particular Vancouver day comes to my mind. Almost like a meditation, when I picture that day in my mind, I summon up the peaceful endorphins that were flowing through my body that day. I love the Vancouver Islands in British Columbia, and so much, I seriously considered moving there. I have been fortunate to visit many beautiful places in the world, from Paris to the Greek Islands, but it was Vancouver that captured my heart. Do you have a special place that speaks to your heart? I would love to hear about it!
This week’s post is not just about my crush on Vancouver, it is really all about the ‘Geography of Bliss’. This just happens to be a name of a travel book I want to recommend to you as well. But it’s so much more than a typical travel book. The author is in search of what makes us happy, and seeks answers to the most pressing questions of our time. Such as, what are the essential ingredients for the good life? Why are some places happier than others? How are we shaped by our surroundings? Big questions and it all speaks to the heart of what I’m getting at…
You see, Vancouver represents for me, a ‘sense of place’ that makes me feel alive, connected to the world and ‘at home’. I don’t live there for many reasons, and mostly because of family ties. I did find a place to call home, that does provide a little city and a lot of nature, and most importantly makes me feel the ‘bliss’ I felt in Vancouver. Now, when I go for walks, I can always find my spot to relax, unwind and just be. I never feel like I have to ‘get away’ because of the beautiful ‘bucolic’ surroundings of the area I live in. Before my big-city friends get defensive, let me just say there are absolutely beautiful spots to discover in the midst of big cities. I have shared a few ‘spots’ in previous posts about green spaces and cities.
So maybe your ‘bliss’ is being right in the middle of a thriving busy city surrounded by people. Deciding where to live is a pretty big deal, but in today’s modern ‘mobile society’ we often live in places we never imagined we would live. Think about the immigrants who come from all over the world to live in America. All of them are contributing to the beautiful tapestry of American culture.
There is so much to explore about sense of place, finding your spot and the geography of bliss. So, what if you could actively shop and look for your ideal place to live? For many families, there is very important criteria to consider when deciding on where to live and raising kids. We see ‘Best Places to Live’ on the covers of major magazines all the time and they all use very specific criteria. Most often they emphasize median incomes, quality of schools and safety. But lately you are seeing lists that also include green spaces and parks.
If you are single, you have much more freedom to choose where to live. Yet, when you are single, you often want to be around other single people. Over the last twenty years ‘urban’ cities are where young singles flock to. There are so many choices for them, but there’s always the affordability factor. Seniors equally have their own criteria when deciding on where to retire. For some seniors, it’s a matter of just downsizing, and for others it is finding stimulation, culture, and soothing nature to enjoy the rest of their lives. Some seniors actually choose to move to a city from the suburbs, so they can finally enjoy all the wonderful cultural things big cities have to offer, without the hassle of driving.
Well, I have something for everyone! I stumbled upon a great new digital portal called ‘Livability’. Livability explores what makes small-to-medium sized cities great places to live. Through proprietary research studies, engaging articles and original photography and video, they examine topics related to community amenities, education, sustainability, transportation, housing and the economy. It’s a very useful site and when you visit their ‘Find A City’ page you can type in any city and learn more about the city’s demographic makeup and economy. I also love the ‘Moving’ section which offers a lot of practical tools, checklists and guides to help you with your move. Of course my favorite page is ‘The Top 10 Healthiest Cities’ which is always of interest to me.
Are you beginning to see why ‘sense of place’ is so important to bliss and happiness? As the author of ‘Geography of Bliss’ gets to, ‘happiness’ is often ‘baked into’ the culture you live in. After all this talk about sense of place, we also find that ‘culture’ is important and can really effect our state of happiness. In a much wider context, I believe what is really important, is creating wellness culture. In doing so we can create a society that benefits everyone, no matter what our social status or income level is. So what kind of ‘culture’ do you think would make you most happy? To get you thinking about culture and happiness I recommend you join me for WWB’s ‘Book Wise’ Pow-Wow this summer! We are reading ‘Field Guide to Happiness’ which was reviewed most positively by Eric Weiner, the author of ‘Geography of Bliss’!
“Linda Leaming writes with a sweetness and an earned wisdom that goes down as smoothly as a good cup of tea. She is also very funny. If you are alive, or would like to be, read her A Field Guide to Happiness and find joy on every page.” ~Eric Weiner
With all this talk about culture, I want to recommend another portal which is the ‘pioneer’ in portals helping you to decide on where to live. It inspired my ‘Find Your Spot’ posts because it is actually called ‘Find Your Spot’. I used this website many moons ago, and I can tell you it is amazingly detailed, thorough, and ‘spot on’, no pun intended! Do you like a lot of sunny weather? Do you want to live near a college? Do you love the theater? Do you enjoy ethnic restaurants? Do you like spending time at the zoo—as a visitor? lol This website helps you find your ideal hometown by having you take a quick, but comprehensive fun quiz. The quiz is designed to focus on the issues that are really important to you, like climate, culture, crime rates, recreational opportunities, community resources and even the types of geography that you enjoy most. Once you take the quiz, you receive a report about your ideal spot and it covers all the pertinent questions you could have about moving to your ideal spot. Of course the key is answering the questions honestly. It really gets you thinking about what really matters to you and your sense of place.
So wherever you roam in life, I hope you always ‘find your spot’. It may be curled up at home on comfy chair reading a good book, or it may be curled up in the arms of the one you love. Just remember, ‘no matter where you go, there you are’ and happiness always starts with YOU deciding to be happy. 😉