What, if any, is the relationship between where you are and your mental state, or happiness? I have been to nearly 1/2 of the world’s countries and I have seen my share of people who are both happy and unhappy, in a variety of situations. Most people seem to about as happy as they decide to be, regardless of their circumstances, however I do believe that some places can suck the life right out of you, and others seem to nourish the soul.
For me quiet is better than noisy, and some colors produce a sense of tranquility while other can make me feel edgy. Crowded cities give some people high energy, but for me they just produce stress. I always seem to feel better walking down a forest path than I do on a city sidewalk. I have lived in many towns, four States, and two countries, and have visited many more, but only a very few give me a special feeling of well-being that I get from Foun
tain Hills Arizona in the winter, and Eugene Oregon in the summer.
Perhaps it is being ringed by mountains, as I was as a child, or maybe it is being close to nature. Whatever it is, I NEED to be in my favorite places, and I feel different when I am there. You might think that my favorite spots would be very similar places but they are very nearly exact opposites. Fountain Hills is dry and brown, a new town full of mature conservative people, Eugene is wet and green, an old town with many young and liberal people. Both towns are “arty” with spectacular architecture. Moving between them keeps me from falling into a rut, and I feel more alive and still growing, at an age when many are ready to quit the game of life.
Weather can turn us into prisoners in our own home. I remember a week in Kennewick Washington when it never got above -10 degrees, and during the summer in Arizona sustained temperatures over 110 degrees are not that unusual. If we are able to choose, why would settle for confinement?
It seems to be important to find the right place and be with the right people. I have been told that people are more important than place, but everywhere I go, I find good people. And not all places are equal, or even close to it. It is easier to be happy when you are surround by beauty. A good location, or view is never enough to produce happiness by itself, but it certainly can help.
For me the right balance of solitude and humanity is also important. I don’t do well in crowded places like New York, Mumbai, or Tokyo and when I was in Death Valley the peace and quiet soon became oppressive. As an introvert, I like my human contact in very small groups of two to four, and the suburbs are infinitely preferable to large cities or very small towns.
Place is never enough, and people are more important, but is it too much to wish for the best of both?
Jack Harwick 6-10-2016
Jack Harwick is a retired aerospace engineer and entrepreneur who now focuses on his favorite pastime—photography. Specializing in panoramas, he has recently founded ArcaTec Photography which offers panoramic home photos to realtors, enabling them to sell homes quicker and at a better price. He now resides in Fountain Hills, AZ.