I went to California recently for a conference. Every time I travel to California, there is a part of me that wishes I lived there, and wonders if I would be happier if I lived in a place with better weather. (As it turns out, research shows that people who live in California aren’t any happier.)
I had a conversation with a colleague, however, that caused me to think about California (and my own life) in a new way. The colleague works as a professor at Florida State University. I was talking to him about his school, and I asked him if he went to many football games, and if he was a big fan.
He said that he was in fact a big football fan, and then he said something that stuck with me. He said that every place he lived was different—but the important thing was to enjoy what your place has to offer. For example, he said he used to work in upstate New York, and he learned to love the snow. Now that he works at a school with an excellent football program, he has learned to love college football.
I thought his advice was a great motto for life. Too often I think about what I don’t have, or what is lacking from where I live. I complain about how Dallas isn’t very beautiful, or doesn’t have many cool outdoor activities to do. I focus on the fact that it isn’t near the ocean AND it isn’t close to the mountains. Now that I’m in Chicago for my sabbatical, I complain about the cold, the fact that it is overcast all the time, and how I have to scrape the ice off my car. I tend to focus on the things that are lacking, rather than think about what is good about where I live. This isn’t a good way to live my life.
The next time you are feeling frustrated about where you live, catch yourself and try to make a course correction. Think about the things that are good about the area you live in, and try to enjoy what your place has to offer. This might take some work. Maybe you will have to do some exploring or research about the cool things in your city or state. Perhaps this process will require you to learn to like something new, like the snow or college football. But I think it is a practice that will lead to higher levels of happiness and gratitude over time.